The Gift of Generosity

Today is my birthday. I have spent a very relaxing day off receiving well wishes from many of my friends (especially Facebook friends) and being the general center of attention. The vain part of me, and that is a part of all humanity, has glowed warmly all day from the affection.

And so, when I got a chance to pay it forward, I did.

I think a precedent should be made. When one is feeling particularly good, they should strive to make others feel that way. Especially on one’s birthday, when all appears to be right with the world, even for a day, because there is cake. Maybe some may say that generosity is selfishness disguised in colorful wrapping paper as it is only there to make the giver feel good about giving. To that I’d say tell that to the woman behind me in her SUV.

Today, when I stopped at Starbucks to get my new obsession (maybe “obsession” is tame, let’s say “reason for living”) Iced Chai Tea Latte, I waited at the drive-thru window for a long time. Now, I’m not a coffee drinker, and it’s only been recently that I learned the difference between “venti” and “grande.” But I felt an urge of goodwill when the next customer pulled up behind me. Her hair was flat-ironed and her dark glasses on an overcast day made me think that she might possibly be hungover. Recognizing the feeling, I made the decision to buy her coffee.

I The workers inside were in a frenzy because their computer system was down. I timidly asked if I could buy the woman’s coffee behind me. They looked surprised. And then replied, “That means you get a free coffee. Would you like blond, medium, or dark roast?” I blinked in shock. Wasn’t generosity supposed to be self-less? Plus, I don’t even drink the stuff. Suddenly, I was in deep. Two beverages I didn’t need? I felt a little bit soiled. As if my generosity wasn’t pure because I was getting something for it. Turns out the CEO of Starbucks has implemented this little deal because of the government shutdown. 

Feeling a bit dejected, I waited patiently for my free coffee. The girl in the window gave me a warm smile and handed me the warm cup, “You’re the first person to do this all day.”

And suddenly, I shined a little brighter. Maybe I started something that day. Maybe the next person bought the next person’s coffee, and so on. I have no idea.

I didn’t get to see the woman’s face when she pulled up to the window and was told that she had received a free coffee. And I didn’t care. Because I knew that I had done the right thing. And my Venti Iced Chai Tea Latte tasted a little bit sweeter as a result. Okay, so maybe it didn’t. The truth is I sucked it down so fast I hardly got to experience it. But did it make me feel a little cooler.

So, Happy Birthday to me and John Lennon. He would have been 73 today, the old fart!

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