The other day, while waiting for a friend, I decided to go into Panera Bread for a cup of coffee, comfortable seating, and wifi. Figured I’d take advantage of the time and do some writing and work.
I got my coffee and was at the sugaring station, when I noticed a man whom I assumed to be the manager, based on his apparel, walking towards me. He was smiling, a nice and normal smile not goofy or awkward. He asked if I wanted a shot of espresso in my coffee. I was quite surprised and took him up on his offer, gladly holding out my cup as if I was Oliver asking for “more porridge.”
After handing my coffee cup back to me, he asked “How about a cookie?”
I shook my head and gave the old tummy a pat, saying I surely didn’t need a cookie. However, since he was twisting my arm, I gladly accepted his offer. I told him to surprise me with the type of cookie and he enthusiastically stuffed a bag and handed it to me.
As I took my espresso-coffee and surprise treat and made my way over to the table, I sat down into what felt like a cloak of gratitude. It felt like warm electrical pulses moving through my body and wrapping around me. It turned my day around entirely.
The truth is, that particular day I was struggling quite a bit. Of course I was smiling. Surely the outside world would never have guessed I was really having a rough time. I am almost always gregarious and extremely extroverted, and don’t often go into places with the intention of flying under the radar. I thrive off connecting with others and, most of the time, can’t help myself. But, on that day, I was almost happy and relieved to could go into this unfamiliar Panera location and blend in. There was a good chance I wouldn’t see anyone I knew. I could just hide amidst all the other strangers in there.
The manager (his name was Michael) blew that plan right up. His gesture was completely unexpected and such a gift to me. When he reached out and connected with me, he brought me out of my mood and reconnected me with the present. I still don’t know if he offered the espresso shot because I looked ragged and like I needed more than just coffee. Regardless, his gift to me was an even deeper brew.
The thing is, he didn’t perform this random act of kindness to try and get me to buy more of his breads and pastries. There were no strings (and no upsell) attached. It was refreshing.
Keep your eyes open today and this week, and look for someone who needs a shot: a shot of life, laughter, or even just acknowledgement. We all deserve to receive – and give – a unexpected, random act of coffee.
Have you ever given or received a random act of kindness? What happened? How did it make you feel? Please share your experience and/or read what others have to share here.