“I’ll Have a Grande Nonfat Latte With A Shot Of Good Karma, Please”
For a mom such as myself, there is a lot to love about living in the suburbs; big parks, scenic walking paths, good schools nearby, and plenty of opportunities for play-dates. But my favourite thing about my neighbourhood is that it comes with a drive-thru Starbucks. At least once a week I take advantage of this most golden of amenities, and of the convenience of stopping for a snack of carrot sticks and kale chips (and by that I mean banana bread and cake pops) without having to detangle my toddler and my baby from their carseats while balancing an overstuffed diaper bag on my shoulder.
One day last week, after a morning of running errands with my kids and trying not to cry at every song on the radio like my premenstrual self wanted to, I decided all three of us could use a treat. I pulled into the parking lot of my local market square and was about to turn into the Starbucks drive-thru when a pick-up truck honked at me. You may think any honk just sounds like a honk, but I am a firm believer that by choosing the duration, number of times, and force you put behind the heel of your hand to your horn, you can convey a variety of messages to other drivers. In this case, the burly man in the pick-up was honking and gesturing at me rather abrasively in a “#@$% you, lady!” manner to let me know that there was already a line-up of vehicles that had formed in the aisle to my right. As previously mentioned, I was feeling a tad on the sensitive side that morning, but wouldn’t a friendly, “Beep! Beep!” have sufficed?
I corrected my error efficiently and without delay, turned around and pulled behind the black SUV at the end of the queue. As I sat in that line-up, I seethed and questioned the decency of humanity. Yes, my period was imminent.
When I reached the speaker, I gave the order for myself, my kids, my friend I was meeting momentarily, and her kids. The black SUV ahead seemed to be taking some extra time at the window, which I chalked up to a complicated order. However, when I pulled up to the window and handed the barista my twenty dollar bill, she replied with a smile, “The woman in front of you took care of it.” I looked puzzled. ”She’s a regular,” the young girl continued, “And she decided to pay for your order.” For the umpteenth time that morning I found myself welling up with tears; not because some singer-songwriter was emoting on the radio, or because a man in a Starbucks line was uncouth, but because I was so touched that a stranger would take an extra eighteen dollars out of her wallet to brighten my day (side note: Starbucks can be expensive…)
This metaphorical extra caramel on my flavoured latte reminded me that paying it forward doesn’t have to be complicated or even inconvenient; all it takes is a bit of thought and the inclination to make someone smile.