Last week a man I didn’t know on Monday bought me a cup of coffee on Tuesday.
I walked into the weeklong class we were both taking and he said, “This is for you,” and he smiled and placed it on the desk in front of me. It was a Starbucks Grande. I loved that it was a Grande; there was something extra special in that gesture. I rarely indulge in a coffee that size.
I thought his name was George but I had to glance at his nametag to make sure. “Thank you, George,” I said. “What a nice way to start my day.”
George was well into his eighties, with a round belly and a New York accent. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and the day before the two of us laughed together at the same funny things our teacher said.
I gazed at my coffee and wondered what I could bring George tomorrow. I thought of donuts, croissants, cinnamon buns, even a bagel. I wondered if I should bake something instead of buy it. I decided I would bring him a KIND bar, probably dark chocolate cherry.
When I got to class the next day George wasn’t there. I was disappointed. Then I realized that, while I couldn’t give back to George, I could give to someone else, even someone I barely know. George’s gesture was much bigger than the two of us. George had gifted me, and now, who knows how many people will be getting an unexpected cup of coffee from me.
It’s funny, but years from now I probably won’t remember what I learned in our class. I know I’ll remember George.