On Saturday, after my nice and toasty Vinyasa Flow yoga class at my cushy gym + a lifting & TRX sesh…
…I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few necessary tailgating items before the Dave Matthews Band concert that night. (This means 3 bags of “Hint of Lime Tostitos”.) I stopped at a store on the way home from my gym – one I normally never go to.
As I walked in, a contagiously happy lady was outside bouncing around and ringing the bell to collect Salvation Army donations. I can never pass these up, so I figured I’d get some change after buying a million bags of chips and toss it in. I pulled my coat closer because it was cold and windy, and she cheerfully said “Come dance with me, it’s warmer!” I giggled and told her I’d get her on the way out.
As I grabbed a cup of coffee for myself, I remembered the smiling woman outside in the cold. I couldn’t imagine standing out in that weather today so I thought I’d do something nice for her – she made me smile, why not return the favor? So, after standing there for a solid three minutes debating whether I should get her coffee or tea (does she like regular milk? Sugar? Cream? Skim milk? Splenda? Plain ol’ black coffee? The coffee combinations are endless! But what if she doesn’t like tea? What if she wants milk in her tea? What if she thinks I’m a stranger trying to poison her?) I ultimately decided to go with plain hot tea. Too many decisions for a Saturday.
I excitedly hurried outside and handed the woman the nice steamy cup of tea, and unexpectedly her response to such a little gesture changed me immensely.
She was so thankful (and said she loves tea! +1 for me. Crisis averted.) She explained that she’s out there on her feet from 9AM-7PM (in the cold) from Monday to Saturday EVERY WEEK and that it takes a toll on her body…and hot drinks always make her feel better. As we chatted, she went on to say that even though it’s hard and she makes something like $8/hour (I asked if she was a volunteer) she has three small children at home so she has to make it work…especially around the holidays. Even though the circumstances probably weren’t ideal for her, she was still out there ringing the bell for such a great cause and dancing around in the cold to make money for her family, all with a smile on her face. I’m sure when she goes home she still has to take care of her family as well.
Wow. Talk about eye-opening.
I complain all the time about my lack of funds. Even though younger Kara pictured older Kara being secure and living in some sort of fancy building with a doorman and owning legit pots and pans (and maybe even a plant?) I’m not even close. But I am fine. I am comfortable. I don’t have anyone to support but myself. I still get to do what I love and run races and relax. I can (sort of) afford that cushy gym.
I’m normally not even the type of person that will stop and talk to a stranger, much less approach them with a cup of tea. STRANGER DANGER! (Kidding. Sort of.) But apparently something was different that day. (The calming effects of yoga?!)
We all need to remember one simple thing: work hard and be nice.
We all know New Yorkers work hard (and play hard). Are we nice enough? Do we stop and pay attention to others? Do we do enough good?
…and according to Lee Brice, “be a best friend, tell the truth, overuse ‘I love you’. Go to work. Do your best. Don’t outsmart your common sense. Never let your praying knees get lazy…and love like crazy.”
Do a good deed for someone today. Maybe you’ll meet someone amazing. Maybe it will be life-changing. Maybe it won’t. Maybe you won’t even know if you made a difference…but I’ll bet you did.