I gave up coffee for lent, and even though I slipped a couple times on those early mornings touring New York City and apartment-hunting in Boston, I (basically) lived for six weeks without it.
So, I start Easter morning with a medium cup of black coffee. Something you should know: I always drink straight, black coffee. Unless, of course, its 90 degrees outside and I’m craving an iced coffee. Anyway, I spend Easter Sunday driving all over Virginia with my boyfriend to visit my family and his family, and then we arrive back in Harrisonburg around 8pm on Sunday night. I feel exhausted and moderately overwhelmed with the amount of work I have left to do before Monday, so when we pull up to the gas pump, I run inside to buy a coffee to get me through the night, not expecting any life-changing events to occur.
I don’t know if its the familiar radio music or predictable interior, but I find something oddly comforting about gas stations. I pour some black coffee from the pot, find a lid that doesn’t look like its been picked up by ten people already, and stand in line to pay. While I’m waiting, I notice the man in front of me who has white hair and smile wrinkles. I don’t plan to strike up a conversation, but he invites me to go in front of him in line. I ask if he’s sure, and he says yes, of course, and points out the fact that I only have one item.
When its my turn to pay, I sit the coffee on the counter. Before I can even reach for my wallet the white-haired man says to the cashier,
“I’m going to buy this for her.”
My initial reaction is to decline, but he insists. He says kindly and simply,
“You will never see me again, and you don’t owe me anything.”
The sixteen year old guy working behind the counter smiles awkwardly at both of us and rings my coffee up with the man’s order. I smile and thank him and walk away.
That coffee probably costs $1.20. Maybe $1.50. But this man’s gesture had a huge impact on me. Who goes out of their way to buy anything for a stranger? I will certainly make a point to pay it forward this week.