Today, I stopped for coffee on the way to work, as I often do, at the local coffee chain (it’s a local chain, not a national conglomerate–it’s the kind of place that still has a local feel. There was a sign on the door as I walked in that they were taking cash only, due to computer problems. “Fine,” I thought to myself. “I’m pretty sure I have cash on me.” Alas–while I was in line, I noticed that I only had a large bill (not a normal occurrence, by the way, but I had been going through a purse that I hadn’t used for a while and found it in a side pocket just the other day–I hadn’t yet gotten to an ATM to deposit it.
Perhaps, I was meant to come across it in that moment, so I could have the moment this morning. Sometimes, the universe gives us the messages we need. If we choose to interpret the universe that way.
I got to the front of the line and ordered my drink. And apologized as I handed my bill over to the man working the register, because I’ve worked registers and I know it’s a pain to make change for large bills. He told me that he couldn’t take it. I looked at him with a look of I’m not sure what feeling my look conveyed…my early morning thoughts were something like, “but….coffee…need…only money I have….” As another woman behind the counter went to take the bill to bring it to the management, as an act of kindness, when the woman behind me in line spoke up. “Let me pay for it.”
Maybe she was in a rush and didn’t want to wait, but I choose to believe that it’s because she had a moment of understanding. Of having been there. Of knowing that I needed something at that moment (a first world problem kind of need, but at that moment, a need) and couldn’t get it and probably having been there in some way. A moment of empathy.
And a moment that made me smile. The woman behind me in line gave me the espresso over ice that I needed. But she also gave me a smile. And a feeling of having been understood. And it’s that feeling that I think is what we all truly need in the world: to be understood.
It is up to us to figure out how to understand those around us. To help them get what they need, whatever it is. To help them to be heard and understood. And then to give that feeling, that smile, to another.