A Humongo Super Snowball of Kindness

‎”Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank

I’d like to talk for a moment about kind people.

A week ago on my way to work I found I had a little extra time so I decided to stop at the local Starbucks to get a mocha for myself. As I was walking into the coffee shop a gentleman with a pack on his back approached me and started to make small talk. It came to me to ask him if he’d like a mocha and he said that would be fine. So I went into the Starbucks and ordered mochas for the both of us. And then I thought he might appreciate a scone, also. So I told the young woman behind the counter that I wanted to buy a scone for the man in the parking lot, to go along with the mocha I was buying him. The barista smiled and told me she wasn’t going to charge me for the scone – that would be on her. Her generosity – and the happy smile that accompanied her gesture – really touched me. I brought the man his scone and mocha – he was appreciative – and I drove on to work with a big grin in my heart.

A couple days later I found myself in another very similar situation. This time I was walking down the boardwalk to Boulevard Park in Bellingham when I spotted a young man leaning against the rail, holding a big duffel bag, and looking out towards the water. He appeared to have tears in his eyes. “Are you okay?” I asked him, and he nodded his head yes. I asked him if he’d like a warm drink from the Woods coffee shop in Boulevard Park, and he smiled and said, “No, but thanks!” I went on into the Woods any way to get myself something to drink, and when I came out the young man had moved down towards the park. He looked totally dejected. I don’t know what was going on with him, and didn’t ask. But I took one look at him, and said, “I really think you could use this more than me,” and handed him the warm drink. This time he didn’t refuse it – he smiled a genuine smile – his whole face lit up – and took the proffered cup into his hands and thanked me. I left him and went back into Woods to get myself another drink. The barista recognized me, and I explained what had just happened. She smiled and said, “This one’s on us!” and made me another drink for free!

Another day – this one cold, dark, dreary, and pouring down rain – and another espresso – this time The Sisters Espresso, an espresso run by two of my favorite people – Brooke, who used to be one of my eighth graders (and is now in her thirties – which… how the heck did THAT happen?!), and her sister, Courtney. They have these really awesome locally-made marionberry cobbler squares at The Sisters and I was waxing all poetic about these little pieces of heaven to the young man standing in front of me at the counter getting himself a drip coffee. He said he’d have to try one next time. He looked to be wearing outdoors working duds, and I asked him about that. He said he was going to be doing work in an apple orchard that day. “In the pouring rain?!” I asked, and he smiled and said yes. My heart went out to him, but he just smiled at my concern. When it came time for him to pay for his coffee, he told Brooke to put a marionberry square for me on his bill!  I think my mouth fell open a little. “Really?! Are you sure?!” I asked him. And he smiled and said he wanted to do that for me. And I ask you: How cool is that?!

Yesterday, I made a stop at our little Bow post office to pick up my mail and mail some packages. It was busy. Mary the Post Office lady (and I feel so blest we have her taking care of us – she is a treasure) probably didn’t get a break yesterday. I was at the end of the line with no one behind me – and I was glad about that because I was mailing something off to Canada, and that always involves a boatload of customs forms and stuff. By the time I reached the counter, though, people started trickling in behind me and the line started growing and growing and growing – and I was feeling responsible for this. But the guy behind me told me not to worry – he said he was retired and had all the time he needed – and the people behind him were all smiling at me, too – and then someone said something about singing carols – so there we were, singing carols, gabbing and laughing. Mary handed me some papers I could work on at the side while she helped other people – so I went off to the side and started filling out these forms. And now I was talking to myself – “Okay, Karen, so now you write down your address… good… and the weight of the items… they need to add up to 2 lbs 11 oz… 8 plus 8 equals a pound, and then add another pound, and this one is 11 ounces…” and I told the other customers that I’d heard talking to yourself is actually a sign that you trust yourself. One of the other customers piped up, “I’d always heard it was a sign of insanity!” And I said, “That, too!” and we shared a laugh.

I know there may seem to be reasons to be discouraged with our world – if we turn on the news we hear about murder and thievery and war and pestilence and greed. But I think if we all take a moment to really look around us – to connect and banter and laugh with our fellow man – we’ll find there’s also a lot of reason to be encouraged by our world. There’s so much goodness here. There’s generosity, and good humor, and kindness all around us – quiet, unobtrusive, often unnoticed – but, I believe, growing in power – like a little snowball that’s quietly rolling down the hill, picking up more snow as it goes until it’s a humongo Super Snowball of Good. Yeah. Like that. 🙂

Brooke and Courtney

Brooke and Courtney at the Sisters Espresso


A Cool Thing Happened Today

A really cool thing happened today. When I woke up this morning I woke up with a mission pinging around inside my noggin – and it was a really fine mission, too.  It came to me that I was supposed to get a Starbucks gift card for a teaching friend who had just passed the National Boards, and another for a teaching friend who was in the process of moving. The “how” I was going to get these cards to them, and the  “when” I was going to find time to get to a Starbucks I was not sure about, but…. details, details, right? I knew it would all work out somehow.

I hadn’t planned it, but I found I was running 15 minutes early this morning, so when I hit the freeway it occurred to me that I’d have time to stop by a Starbucks before work. I remembered, then, a Starbucks that sat off the freeway on a parallel road. Hah! I decided to give myself a little adventure before work – I’d stop off at the Starbucks, buy the gift cards, and buy myself one of those Starbucks holiday drinks, and then I’d take the parallel road for a while instead of getting back on the freeway and taking my usual route to work. I’d shake things up a little. 🙂 I’d worry about how I’d get the cards to my friends (who work at different schools) later.

And then the really cool thing happened: When I got to the Starbucks I saw another teaching friend coming out of it – someone I really enjoy and hadn’t seen for a long time – and as she smiled and raised her hand to wave at me, it occurred to me that she worked at the same school as the teacher who’s in the process of moving! I could give the card to her to give to my other friend!

Michele and I hugged and when I told her about my plan, she was ready and eager to help me get the card to our other friend. She came back into the Starbucks with me and we had a few minutes to chat and laugh and hug again and get caught up a little before we both headed off to our respective schools.

And THAT had all gone so well that I felt inspired to continue my morning adventure and make an effort to get the second Starbucks gift card to its proper place. The friend who had passed the National Boards teaches at a school along the road that runs parallel to the freeway – I could, I decided, simply take that road as far as her school and drop it off on my way to my own school. Which is exactly what I did. And when I stopped at that school I ran into ANOTHER friend – a young woman who had once worked side-by-side with me during a year that had challenged both of us as teachers. Teresa has one of those smiles that can light up a room and as soon as I saw her I felt the positive energy just radiating from her. We hugged and laughed and reminded each other how much we had appreciated each other’s support during our challenging year. Then, because I realized I was now running late, I gave her another quick hug and continued on to school.

Which brings me to the final really cool thing: I wasn’t late! I arrived at school just as my first student arrived – perfect!

And the rest of the day was good, too. 🙂