Friday, December 28th, 2007
The weather was beautiful. The sun was shining in a cloudless sky. The air was cool and crisp, inviting people to feel it. It was a weekday morning and I’d just dropped the kids off at school. I was sitting in a Starbucks drive-through. I was preparing to order my nonfat cafe misto and a fat-full cranberry bliss bar. I’d never had a cranberry bliss bar. It was time to try it out. I was ready for a great day.
In the mean time, there were a bunch of guys with leafblowers walking with looks of confusion on their faces. It seemed as though they didn’t know where to blow the bounty of leaves that nature had dropped before them. Converging upon various piles of leaves, they seemed to wander aimlessly, blowing leaves in no particular direction.
Unfortunately, the sound of the multiple leafblowers was so loud and there were so many leaves blowing in the wind that I had to close my window on this beautiful day. I thought about my neighbor who detested leafblowers and was often complimented by others for her use of a broom and dustpan.
All of the folks in the drive-through were closing their windows, wishing these guys would just finish their job & stop blowing stuff through open car windows.
There was also a car in front of me. As the lady approached the window to pick up her order, she seemed very calm and happy. Here hair was nicely done and her nails neatly polished in shiny red. She smiled and seemed completely unaffected by the great noise and calamity that was going on around us. She was having what appeared to be a pleasant conversation with the lady at the drive through window. It seemed like it was taking a long time too.
I waited to approach the window and pick up my order. Thinking about the details of my day, I had already entered a trance-like state focused upon the upcoming work I would do.
At the pick-up window, a healthy looking woman asked me, “Do you know that lady who was ahead of you?”
“No, why?” I answered curiously. This was an unusual question and was waking me out of my trance.
“Well, she wanted me to tell you Merry Christmas. She paid for your drink & breakfast.”
“Wow–really? Are you serious? That was really nice of her–that is really cool!” This encouraged me to leave an even nicer tip than normal. I then got my drink & cranberry bar and drove forward, looking for the manicured lady. She was gone. I couldn’t say thanks.
Later that day, I picked up one of my children from school. We pulled into the local burger drive-through (guess this was my drive-through day) and I began to tell him the story of what happened that morning.
“Mommy, I know how you can say thanks,” he said wisely. “You can pass it on.” Out of the mouths of babes.
So, as I pulled up to the window, we told the lady at the cash register that we’d pay for the person behind us. I looked through my rearview mirror at the driver behind me. It was a woman about my age. She wasn’t so neatly manicured. Her car looked old and run down. She had gold front teeth. I wondered if she would be as pleasantly surprised as I was earlier that day, or if her thoughts would lead her to a different reaction. She was a different color from me–would she think that I was trying to be condescending or that I was racist if I did this? Or would she realize that this was just an attempt to reach out to another soul and perform a random act of kindness, no matter who was behind me?
Somehow, though, as quickly as the voice of doubt and hesitation entered my mind, it was admonished by a louder thought, “This is the person who the wish needs to reach.” I was the go-between. I remembered that the universe works through each of us, if we’ll just pass it on. So, I passed it on.
As my son and I drove off, I tried to figure out which felt better–giving or receiving. You know what? They both felt great.
Pam Garcy, Ph.D.