A Single Punch Card

This morning i went to my regular coffee shop on the southwest side of town. After frequenting for a good 10 years or so, I am known there. It’s a place Paula and I often meet, only to be interrupted by a handful of people here and there that I haven’t seen for awhile. There’s a regular crew that plays Mahjong in the afternoons, and another crew that sits outside on sunny days with their dogs. I love Que’s. I love my friends that surprise me and the ones who serve me coffee.

Today I was headed to Denver to volunteer for the Evolving Faith Conference held at the University of Denver. I don’t mind the drive to Denver but it was just cold enough and early enough that a latte sounded just right. 

I popped in at my unusual time and had to wait in line. It wasn’t long and I was early so I just waited, no problem.

I observed the guy in front of me. He seemed to be with a group, maybe a work crew who met there before heading to the office. Or maybe it was a church group. I’m not sure I need to know. He was tall and thin, a couple years older than me. He had a Que’s insulated coffee cup, so I knew he was a regular too. I felt a kinship. 

When he placed his order and was just about to pay, he produced a fully stamped punch card. All ten little coffee cups on his card were filled. He pushed it in my direction with a short statement about putting it towards my latte. 

I was surprised and oddly overwhelmed by the simple, yet profound gesture. And when the line is long, you don’t get to receive without also offering to give. And so, I passed on the kindness and purchased Amy’s coffee to my left.

I don’t know what it is about these moments. I get nervous and chatty. I say funny things and wonder why I said them once I reach the safety of my vehicle. It’s hard to receive. And it’s also hard to give. I want to be generous but half the time I talk myself out of my initial urge to provide for someone else’s need, or want. It’s funny how we are.

I thanked my benefactor and said a kind goodbye to my new friend, Amy and made my way through the parking lot to my waiting car. 

Driving east on Nelson, I cried. I’m not exactly sure why. I have my fair share of goodness and generosity and people who love me, but I still cried. I realized the gift he gave me, a small token, a four dollar reminder of the goodness of humanity. I was surprised at my tears and how starved I apparently was for this reminder. 

I don’t have any words of wisdom here. Just do it. Buy the coffee, or pass on the punch card, or say the kind word. All of it makes a difference. And all of it might make someone’s drive to Denver a little bit lighter and filled with joy.

Carry on friends. We’re doing good work.