I started my morning at a coffee shop around 7:45 am. It was dark, foggy and cloudy outside. A day when everybody just wants to stay home, cozy up on the couch under a warm, fluffy blanket and read a book all day.
I entered the place, went up to the counter and waited at least 6 minutes for someone to show up. A young lady, probably in her mid twenties, slowly came out from the back, ignored my greeting, asked what I wanted and made my coffee in complete silence. When she handed the drink over, she looked away. I slowly walked up to a corner table, pulled out a squeaky, old chair and sat down thinking: What just happened? I like the other barista way more. I took my computer out, had a sip from my warm latte and looked around the quiet, empty coffee shop as rain drops started hitting the windows. “Ugh…what a yucky morning”- I thought. While I was checking my emails, I couldn’t shake off the sad and awkward feeling that filled up the usually happy and vibrant coffee shop. Around 8:20 am people started coming in and the place got noisier and more lively. I was so focused on my work that I forgot where I was sitting and that there were people around me. I was in my own little world. At some point I looked up from my keyboard and saw the barista go behind a door so she can cry without anyone noticing. I immediately got pulled back into reality. I felt the sadness again and felt terrible for giving her a little attitude this morning. I couldn’t stop watching. She came back out and started taking customers again. All of a sudden everything I learned about being nice to people, all the quotes that I have read and preached about in the past rushed through my mind. I failed at putting it into practice this morning. What if she lost someone, what if she is going through a bad breakup, what is she is having financial troubles?
Suddenly, I had the urge to fix my mistake. No way I am leaving this place without doing that. I walked up to the counter feeling terrible. I stood in line, paid for a chocolate chip cookie and as she gave me the receipt, I gave her the cookie in return… After a second of silence she realized what was happening and started laughing. I looked her in the eye and said: “I hope you will feel better soon and that your day will get better!” – I meant it with all my heart. I went back to my table. I didn’t expect her to tell me her story or say thank you. I didn’t want any of that. I needed her to smile and know that she is not completely alone, even if I am just a stranger. I live 9,000 km away from my family and there were times when I could have not felt lonelier. I wanted her to know others are there for her. I have had bad days before (who hasn’t?) and a random smile from someone else, a “Have a great day” text message or a hug, meant the world to me.
A little kindness goes a long way! We never know what the other person is going through at the moment. We always have to remember that. The chocolate chip cookie did not make her worries go away but made her smile and made her feel loved. That is all I could do at that point.
Today and every day, just stop for a second and pay attention. Even if you are busy, look up from your keyboard, book or magazine and look around. It is easy to be nice to people who are nice to you. Change starts with someone taking the first step and that person could be you!
What are you gonna do today to make someone else smile?
Have a blessed day!