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.