It's rare that I have extra time in the morning. I usually can get ready, pack my lunch and head off to work all in the nick of time. This morning though, I had a few extra minutes and decided to treat myself to some Starbucks seeing as I still had some money on a gift card.
When I got to the window, I was handed my coffee and the barista informed me that the woman in front of me had paid for my order.
I've heard of this happening before, especially lately. It seems to be the latest trend in random acts of kindness and paying it forward as these events at Starbucks have even made the news.
I smiled and gave him my card and paid for the order behind me. Feeling giddy as I did and hoping the woman behind me would feel just as delighted when she was handed her prepaid latte. As I drove to work I smiled, and pondered how else we could think of showing kindness to one another outside of a Starbucks drive-thru.
Later in the afternoon, I spoke with an angry customer on the phone. She accused me of lying about not having previously called her about a balance due on an order and proceeded to jab me with rude and condescending words. She hung up on me and I slammed the phone down and began to cry. I know people tell you not to take things like that personally or not to let them get to you, but I do. It wouldn't be in my nature to react any other way. I'm sensitive and tender-hearted, and when my integrity is challenged, I get emotional because I want to be heard and understood. I tried my hardest to be both kind and professional on the phone even after her rudeness to me, I was still undone when the conversation had ended.
Moments after I let the tears come and pass, I thought about the kind gesture given to me this morning. Perhaps the woman I spoke to was in need of some kindness. Maybe she needed a cup of coffee or a kind word or a smile or an embrace because this world can be so cold and cruel and warmth and kindness are almost rare to stumble upon. I began to wonder what she had going on that could make her angry enough to speak to me the way that she did. I know at the times I've been that kind of bristly or ugly towards perfect strangers, there is a reason behind it. And the reason is usually hurt.
Maybe it sounds cheesy or cliche, but I prayed for her. I asked God that she could experience some comfort today. That if she doesn't know Him that she might come to, and if she does that He would meet her in her hurt and anger and give her peace.
We have a responsibility, an obligation, and calling to care for others. To remember that we are all fighting fierce battles - sometimes just against ourselves. Today I was reminded to look away from myself. To look up. To look around and remember that a little kindness goes a very long way.
That a spoken word, a warm smile, a sincere "How are you?", or a cup of coffee could have an impact on someones day. Even more so, it could have an impact on their life.