It was Saturday morning, about 10 AM. I had just run several errands, and had stopped at a little hole in the wall cafeteria in Hialeah, near the nursing home where my Dad lives. These are restaurants with an open window to the sidewalk, where you can purchase all kinds of things, but primarily cafe (coffee), made in various and sundry ways, while still standing on the sidewalk.
I was on my way to see my Dad, and had promised when I saw him the day before, that I would bring him some cafe con leche and tostadas (cuban coffee with milk, lots of sugar, and Cuban bread with butter). His all time favorite.
I was catching a flight later that evening, and as usual, was trying to cram a week’s worth of stuff into this day, after having spent 2 weeks working out of my Miami office.
I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was having cafe cubano (expresso) himself, while my Dad’s coffee and toast were being made. While we were talking, I took out my debit card, and was absentmindedly tapping it on the counter. As we talked, the waitress put the styrofoam cup of cafe con leche on the counter, looked at my tapping card in hand, and said, “we can’t take your card, your purchase is not enough”. I asked her how much the purchase had to be, and she said $10, and that the cafe and toast were only $1.75. I had no cash, so I looked at the menu board above her head, and began to order enough to make up the rest of the $10. You see, I had NO cash, and I was not leaving without my Dad’s all time favorite. You do not show up to see a 90 year old in a nursing home without his cafe con leche and tostadas.
All of a sudden, the guy I was talking to says, “you are not going to buy all that stuff you don’t need. Here”, and he whips out 2 bucks and puts them on the counter. I was flabbergasted, and at the same time felt a wave of gratitude wash over me. I thanked him profusely, shook his hand, and walked to my car in wonder and amazement.
Here are the lessons that I learned that Saturday morning:
1) Kindness is everywhere. Look for it. When you need it most, it will find you.
2) People are by nature, good and kind hearted. Yes there is ugliness in this world, no denying that. But there is an immense amount of kindness and goodness too. Let’s not forget that.
3) Just like that guy did not hesitate one second to show me kindness, we should not hesitate when the opportunity presents itself.
My Dad really enjoyed that cafe con leche and tostadas, and I don’t think I have ever enjoyed watching him enjoy, any more than I did that Saturday morning.
Are you paying it forward?