My Random Act of Caffeine
Fresh out of church on a September Sunday, with thoughts of Mother Teresa and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves still lingering in the air, we get into the car and my husband says: “Let’s go for coffee."
Never one to say no to caffeine or joy rides, we take the circuitous route over the bridge and before long we pull into a parking spot in front of Starbucks.
My husband and daughter stay in the car while I go in and order. As the guy behind the espresso bar hands me my two drinks, he points to a vanilla cappuccino and an iced latte sitting there unclaimed on the counter.
“You want these? They’re on the house.”
What, as in free?
“Seriously. They’re mistakes. Go ahead. Take them. Give them away or something. Make somebody’s day.”
Any other time, I would have smiled and maybe I would have thought, “Gee, what a nice idea!” But then I most certainly would have left the Good Samaritan thing for someone else.
But this is not like any other time. Mother Teresa, remember?
I take the two free drinks and put them along side my own in one of those cardboard carryout trays.
“Why do you have so many cups?” my daughter wants to know back at the car. As we pull out of the parking space, I explain that I’m going to give the extra drinks to someone.
“Someone we know?”
“No. Anyone. Just to make their day.”
“Who’s going to accept coffee from a stranger?” my daughter asks. “You could have poisoned it. Or spit in it!”
Yes, I suppose that’s true. And, granted, I know where she learned to think like that. But surely, on this sunny morning, no one else will be as skeptical.
Heading up the hill, eager to perform my random act of caffeine, I spy a man and woman out for a Sunday stroll. My husband slows to a stop as I roll down the window.
“I know this sounds weird,” I say to the couple. “But I was just at Starbucks and, well, they made some extra coffee. Would you like it?”
The guy steals a sideways glance at his companion before he responds: “Coffee? Uh...actually...no…we, uh...we don’t drink coffee.”
As the couple hurries away, my husband and daughter giggle and provide the translation just in case I didn’t get the message. “Arsenic? No. We don’t drink arsenic. Especially from a drive-by stranger.”
Next up. A mom and a dad with two kids in a stroller. They stop. They listen. They smile. They thank me. But make no mistake. When it comes to my Starbucks story, they’re just not buying it. Even if it is for free.
At this point, I’m thinking even an optimist has to reassess her options. I could: 1) Pour the java down the drain along with any last ounce of idealism that might still be left in our car, 2) Drink it all and pray it was decaf, 3) Ask Mr. I-Told-You-So who’s sitting behind the wheel with a big smirk on his face to slow down just one more time to let me try the two middle-aged women up ahead on our right.
“Hi there,” I holler and one of the women stops and looks over at me. I hold up the two drinks and take a deep breath. “I was just at Starbucks and, well...”
“Starbucks?” The woman comes up to the car and smiles. “We love Starbucks! We go there almost every day, but we didn’t make it over there this morning.”
And then she calls excitedly to her friend. “Look at this!”
As I hand over the vanilla cappuccino and the iced latte, she says with a broad grin: “You won’t believe it! I always drink it hot and she always has it cold! This is perfect.”
Photo by Takahiro Sakamoto