SHE STOOD THERE, SLOWLY DROWNING IN THE PUDDLE OF HER OWN SOBS.
This is a story I’ve never told publicly.
When it happened, two girls asked if they could videotape me and make me “Internet famous” (in their own words) for my good deed, but it wouldn’t be right.
It wasn’t about me…
As I plugged away at my computer at Starbucks, a young girl – maybe 22 – in a hoodie walked in, drenched by her own tears and masked by despair.
She looked lost.
Not the type of “lost” that occurred to me a few days ago trying to find my hotel in Amsterdam without Google Maps to guide me (God forbid us Millennials actually learn to read tangible maps or – gasp! – ask for directions).
She stood there, slowly drowning in the puddle of her own sobs, seemingly lost as in without purpose for living. The worst “lost” one could have.
As she sat down, her three barista friends rushed over to comfort her.
The crying ensued…
Actually, one tearful fountain turned into four.
About an hour later, I couldn’t take it any longer, so I packed my computer, walked swiftly to Publix (and bonus points if you know of, or have been to, Publix…home of the best chicken tenders and supermarket subs known to mankind), and bought bouquets of flowers for the table.
Why? I don’t know. I was “pulled” to do it. The fabric of space-time sucked me in and demanded that deed be done in that moment.
Walking back in, flowers in hand, I softly said, “I know it is none of my business, but you all seem really sad, so I figured I’d bring you some flowers.”
Still sobbing, the girl in the hoodie thanked me, then gave me a long, deep hug. The kind of hug that is meaningful…not one of those crappy one-armed side hugs you’d give to a stranger – or someone you wish would become a stranger.
As she told me her story, something in me sparked. She had lost her boyfriend in a tragic motorcycle accident just days before, an incident I had seen on Facebook but casually glanced over before holding this man’s mourning girlfriend in my arms just days after his passing.
Mixed emotions overcame me. Thrilled to have done such a gentle deed, but struck by the frailty of life and my pending legacy, the experience penned its impact on me forever.
I’m not kidding…I thought about it for weeks. One day, I’m going to turn this entire encounter into a film. Maybe…I have to take care of a few others things first :).
But, “snap back to reality”…
I’m not sharing this with you to “brag” about my good deed. I could have done that half a year ago when it actually happened. Or I could have let the two girls who wanted to make me “Internet famous” record me and post the entire thing online.
The only reason I share this with you is to inspire you to also do good deeds where and when you see fit. If sharing this story inspires just one other, genuine good deed, then it was worth my time in typing this up and I don’t really care who calls the post selfish, narcissistic, etc after that point.
Good deeds shouldn’t just be for the holidays. Sure, giving gifts is always nice, even when you’re sold into doing so by the whole commercial notion behind modern holidays. And yes, time with loved ones to actually tell them how much they mean to you is important. All I’m saying is that you’re giving, your good deeds, your generosity…it doesn’t have to be regimented.
Every once in a while, I also pay for a stranger’s cup of coffee. When I first started doing this in the summer of 2013, I actually would leave my business card and hope I’d get a call or email back of “thanks”. Then, one of my former co-workers at 15Five suggested I just let it be. Don’t leave a card. Instead, just pay and walk out. Or, better yet, hide in the corner of the coffee shop and watch the stranger seemingly flip out when they get their free cup of coffee. Just doing the good deed should be satisfactory enough.
And by the way…this is totally selfish. Did I make that girl’s day maybe .000001% better? Probably. Was it going to bring back her boyfriend? No.
However, to this day I feel good about what i did. When shit hits the fan in my relationships, I piss off a friend, I communicate poorly and someone perceives me as cold or whatever bad words someone may say behind my back (I’m sure things have been said, but I run away from negativity and generally don’t care about what non-constructive critics have to say about me…I can’t control them, only myself), I can always fall back on experiences like this and know that I’m a half decent person at the end of the day.
So, for this post, my message is simple…In fact, you could get the point even if you only read the title.