coffee, crosswords, and kindness

The word of the day is empathy and right here smack dab in the middle of a Thursday, I found some. I woke up in not the best of moods. Slept terribly, stepped on something sharp in the middle of the night, you know those mornings. Then, while half way through a conference call with my boss, my internet goes into a state of comatose. and while pacing around on the phone with the internet provider, I got a little teary eyed because could my life be any harder!? I'm kidding. So in an effort to perk up my situation, I decided it was a good idea to work the rest of my day from the coffee shop down the street. A building filled with lattes, muffins, and unlimited internet access was just the ticket to improve my grumpy state. I came in and set up my "desk", grabbed my Mexican latte, and settled in. I realized moments later that I had forgotten my headphones and as I nearly got up to walk the several blocks home to grab them, I decided instead to embrace the white noise of coffee shop life and I'm so glad I did.

So while I'm starting to get into the groove of the morning, with my laptop on one side of me and my coffee on the other, the cutest little older man walked into the shop. I had sat down at the table closest to the front windows and door (because who doesn't love constant distractions?) and without realizing it, I sat down at the table that was accompanied by today's copy of the New York Times.

Out of the corner of my ear, I hear an older man order a drink at the counter. While waiting for his order to come up, he walked up to my table and grabbed the newspaper swiftly. I wasn't reading it so it was only slightly irritating. OK whatever. It's fine. Then, as he was walking out with his coffee, I watch him flip quickly to the crossword section, rip it out, and throw the rest of the paper back down on my table. It hurt my cold black heart for a quick second just thinking about how a small act like that could be such a selfish one. Maybe I wanted to do the crossword, ya know? So he left and I sat there for a minute thinking about what a shame it is that people can be so selfish and only think about what's best for them or what they want, even if it's just the damn crossword puzzle in the newspaper.
And then not even five minutes later, I hear the door of the coffee shop open again and a familiar voice. It was the same man walking back in, with a torn out crossword puzzle in one hand and several pieces of paper in the other. The gentleman that I was so quick to judge as being rude and selfish went down the street and had the crossword puzzle photocopied so that he didn't write on the original. I was completely blown away. He sat down at the table next to me and I told him that I hadn't seen such a simple act of kindness in a while and how refreshing it was. The world is so mad and divided and pissed and sad right now. And he said "well, it's not much. But it's just what I do to be nice, ya know? We gotta be nice to each other. And taking the crossword puzzle away from others isn't very nice." and that was all he said before giving his full attention to his photocopied puzzle. it was sweet. It was kind. and it was exactly what I needed to see today.

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