This just happened

I am working later today than I want to and the aunt for whom I’m named is really struggling right now, and that’s out of my control and I hate it. Mostly, I’m feeling sorry for myself, so I decide to drown my sorrows in an iced coffee down the street. Temperatures here are barely in the 20s and there’s an icy wind that makes the 20s look balmy.

But I want an iced coffee because the way they make it at my coffee shop, it takes like a Snickers candy car. I can’t get any of my deskmates to walk the long block with me so I set off alone in the late-afternoon light. I’m stuck on the corner by a state-owned parking lot and there stands a woman — I think it’s a woman, but it could be a man — all bundled up staring out over the cars and trucks and I think, “Man, she looks miserable” or maybe I’m just projecting because I am miserable, but I figure I’ll buy her a cup of coffee and take it to her on my way back. The light changes, and I cross the street and walk smack into Pierre, one of those homeless guys who won’t sleep indoors because the voices in his head tell him not to. He’s pushing a shopping cart of various items and he has on three coats, two hats, but no gloves and his hands are that purple-red that signals bad stuff is happening to his skin right now.

So I tell Pierre — we go way back; he hangs out near where I work and we’ve gotten to know one another — that he needs to take my gloves. He doesn’t want to but I tell him I have a nicer pair at home — which is true. He says he’d prefer the nicer pair and we both laugh and though he has smallish hands, we get my No. 2 pair of gloves onto him, and I go into my coffee shop while he’s blowing me kisses through the window.

If you ever need a way to make a grand entrance into a coffee shop, tell Pierre to do what he did with me, which is stand at the door and yell, “You’re a fucking saint! You are!” I’m not, but the nice woman wearing the hijab (beneath her company-issued visor) behind the counter hears him and smiles at me and puts extra cream into my Snickers bar.

I wait for Pierre to get distracted (I don’t treasure him accompanying me back to work and extolling my virtues), and I grab the coffee for the woman across the street and I leave. The woman hasn’t moved in about 10 minutes, as far as I can tell, so I say, “Excuse me,” and hand her the coffee. All I can see are her eyes — which are brown and gorgeous, but rheumy from the cold — and she can’t bless me enough.

So I’m walking off feeling like a f–ing saint when a woman pushing a stroller drops one of her bags, and  I bend to pick it up, and she thanks me like I handed her a $20 and at this point I’m feeling pretty special and if I’d had a $20, I most likely would have given that to her, too.

Now I’m feeling pretty dang good about the world. And that, as we know, is the dirty little secret about doing good deeds. You’re not really making much of a dent in the recipient’s life, but it sure takes your mind off your own troubles.

The End. By Susan C.

And thanks, Jezebel, for the link.

Published by datingjesus

Just another one of God's children.

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  1. And that, my friends, is why kindness and generosity have survival value–for the individual and for society–and greed and stinginess do not.

    Well done, Susan. You’re a real mensch.

  2. That’s my point–doing it because it makes us feel good is a perfectly legitimate reason. Underneath that good feeling, I believe, is “there but for the grace of God go I.”

    And from there it’s a short step to Sharon’s First Theorem: There are two kinds of people in the world: those who can imagine themselves in another person’s shoes, and those who can’t. Corollary#1: Those who believe they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, and those who know that’s physically and philosophically impossible.

    1. Great posts Susan and Sharon, o wise women of Christmastide. I will steal quotes from you for my profile, thank you very much, and will pass them forward.

  3. You are a Mensch! “Do a good turn daily!’ is the Boy Scout slogan. I put a “good turn” coin in my left pocket every morning. After I have done my good turn, the coin then goes into my right pocket.
    I’m sure Todd will politicize this story, but that’s Todd!

  4. You may think a kindness doesn’t make much difference. You’re wrong.
    I don’t think I’ve ever told you that flat out. But you are. On this subject, anyway.
    Kindness makes all the difference.
    And what’s really cool…….
    It’s fun.

  5. You are really something, dj. Just when I think you are really awesome, you go and do that and now I think you are even better than awesome!

    “You’re not really making much of a dent in the recipient’s life, but it sure takes your mind off your own troubles.”

    Maybe a dent is all that’s needed to boost a person enough when the going is rough. I think just noticing and acknowledging a person’s struggle can make a person feel like it matters to someone else. They’re not invisible.

    You inspired me to do something nice this evening while out at the store. I bought a hot chocolate and gave it to the lady who was ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. She was freezing and blessed me over & over for it. It did feel great. I gave a donation, too. It was a good teaching moment for my daughter who was with me. So thanks.

    1. I wondered, because my daughter asked, who those Salvation Army bell ringers were. Any one know? I thought they did it as a paid job rather than as a volunteer. (presumably low paying) It’s got to be tough to stand out there in the cold and ring that bell for hours.

      1. My understanding is that the Salvation Army used to rely on its own personnel, then on volunteers, but in recent years has had to resort to minimum-wage help.

  6. And isn’t this better than thinking if you DON’T do this stuff you’ll burn in hell? Doing the good thing is, simply, doing the right thing.

  7. I totally do not get the iced coffee thing when the weather is bitter cold, but I did enjoy reading the examples of your generosity.

    Pierre is spot on about you Susan!

    Please note: No politicians, or political parties were hurt in this post…see Mario, I don’t have to politicize everything.


  8. Knowing you Susan,

    You would have given Pierre the gloves even if he had a Rowland t-shirt on. You would have still bought the coffee even if the woman wore a McCain/Palin cap, and you would’ve helped pick up the groceries of an ardent tea party member. To use the vernacular of my students:

    That’s how you roll.

    1. Wow. That’s changed. Mr. DJ volunteered a couple of years and then I did, as well, but again: This was a while ago. Maybe we should be handing money to the bell-ringers, directly.

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