Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Transferring the Act

     I was coming home from Cleveland today and as I got to the Philadelphia airport I was thinking about giving someone a Starbucks gift card, but I couldn't decide who.  To be honest, I wasn't even sure what criteria I would be using, other than finding someone that felt "right."  After considering (and deciding against) a number of people, I settled on a woman who was working the information desk in the F terminal.
     The woman was seated behind a big semicircular counter.  As I approached her, I asked her if she liked Starbucks coffee.  Her first response was, "No, we don't have that here."  She thought I was asking if there was a Starbucks in that terminal.  I tried again, explaining that I wanted to know if she personally enjoyed Starbucks coffee.  To this she responded, "No, I don't drink coffee.  I just never liked it, though I do like coffee ice cream."  
     I shared that I don't like coffee either, but that I had a Starbucks gift card that I had intended to offer her.  "I have a good friend who would love it," she informed me.  So I said that I would make her a deal.  I'd give her the card to give to her friend, as long as she explained that it was from a stranger and that, in return for accepting the card, she had to do something nice for someone else.  The woman promised that she would convey that message, but she let me know that she would have no way of knowing whether or not her friend had complied.  Her friend was a pretty nice person though, she added, and probably would do it.
     It was a rather interesting exchange and was yet another reminder that you  never know precisely what you're going to get in any interaction.  Still, I'm finding it fun to push harder on the "pay it forward" requests.  It gives a whole different flavor to the conversation, and it's a flavor I like.  Most importantly, it has to increase the likelihood that more kindness will spread as a result.

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