“You forgot my second cookie so you can go ahead and give me an extra one,” she said and stormed back to her car.
The confused clerk stuck his head out the window. “Excuse me?” Back she came to the window, this time slamming her hand on the windowsill to make her point.
“You forgot my second cookie. And since I had to get out of my car you can go ahead and give me an extra one.”
The clerk looked stunned. He went and got the cookies. She grabbed them and huffed back to her car.
By the time I rolled up to pick up my tea, he looked shaken. He handed me the wrong order. I could see his hands shaking.
“I think this is the wrong order. It’s not a big deal, but I don’t want to take someone else’s drink,” I said with a smile on my face. I didn’t want to add to his distress and really, it’s a Starbuck’s order. It’s not like he amputated the wrong limb or something.
“I’m so sorry. I skipped an order on the computer. I’m sorry…”
“It’s ok. No problem.”
He handed me the correct order, this times his hands shaking worse than before.
“That was ridiculous back there. I hope the rest of your customers treat you nicer today.”
“Thank you. I’m so sorry you had to listen to me…”
“It’s ok. That wasn’t your fault. Have a wonderful day!”
As I was putting my car in drive, I heard someone tell him that he had to have manager approval to give away an extra cookie. You could see the stress on his face building again.
I got angry. Angry that in about 20 seconds this thoughtless person ruined this poor man’s day. I’m sure as she drove off her goddamn free cookie she had no idea what she left behind. The shaking hands, the shaken confidence, the shit he was now taking for giving away a cookie just to make her happy.
I think in her mind she was probably just standing up for herself, but sometimes we get so caught up in standing up for ourselves that we miss the bigger picture. Outrage is great when it really matters. But over a cookie? That just makes you an asshole.
There are days that I wish I could change the world. I want to make it gentler and kinder. I wish there wasn’t so much violence. I wish there was more tolerance. I wish we took better care of the Earth. It’s frustrating to the things as you wish they could be and not be able to do anything about it. But this reminded me that we can. I may not be able to change the world, but I can change my environment, my community and the people I run into on a day-to-day basis. In a way, this lady at Starbuck’s reminded me of that. She showed me far-reaching effects of a harsh word, but in that proved that I, we, could do the opposite with a kind one. The echo of a mean word is loud, but an act of compassion? I have to imagine that’s like yelling into the Grand Canyon.
The world grows what we put out into it. I choose to grow kindness.