I ran across the busy road. Some bearded fellow had eventually been kind enough to wave me across. I was on a short break and I badly needed a muffin and some tea. I had just resumed work after a year long hiatus. It was January, which in Chicago meant it was very cold. I had erroneously anticipated a spike in temperature and so, left my office without my scalf, hat and gloves. By the time I got to the coffee shop, I was freezing. I stuttered out my order, rubbing my arms and shifting from one foot to the other, blowing at my frozen fingers, willing some warmth back into my body. The associate taking my order, Theresa was a short, middle aged woman with a sunny disposition. Cold,eh? I nodded the affirmative. She wrapped my muffin carefully while making small talk, I absent mindedly reached in my jacket for my purse….I had left it on my desk! My heart fell to the bottom of my boots. I’m sorry. I stammered, embarrassed at the prospect of not having funds to pay for my breakfast. Realising my situation, she smiled and waved away my apologies.‘That’s OK love. It’s on me.’

That was five years ago. Her act of kindness towards me, a stranger then, continues to stoke the flame of hope in my heart. Hope, that each individual has the ability to be kind. Not bogus acts of kindness, well, those ones are good, too. But those nuggets of goodness we share on a daily basis: a smile, a kind word, an act of genetosity in paying for another’s meal without breaking the bank. It goes a long way.

Back to my story. From time to time, I still stop by her coffee shop. She still insists on giving me muffins and hot chocolate drinks without taking money. At times, she will give me two muffins for the price of one when I insist on paying. Always smiling, never a dull moment in her company.

Be nice, not just to people you know but strangers. An old friend of mine always says: Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle and carrying some kind of burden, noone else can see.


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