My mom lost her job as a group home clinician a few weeks ago. She's a psychotherapist, underpaid and overworked for the last 16 years, raising me alone. Finally, on October 7th, she went from roughly 45 clients a week, each with at least 30 minutes' worth of paperwork, to a small handful of private clients she had on the side.
I helped her file for unemployment while her coworkers went on strike for a week, because she was by far the best clinician at the company– the most-respected, most-loved, and most appreciated by every client ever assigned to her, of which there were double what she was told she'd ever have to manage. Look, I'm not poor, I mean I've seen poor. The following story is at Starbucks. But for us, it got rougher than it ever was. I don't really know how to get into that though, so all this is just a preface for this post.
Anyway, as I'm hunkering down for my routine Sunday night of studying at Starbucks, I get in line for my tall mocha– no whip cream– for a little hope and encouragement before my cram session.
I give my order to the unusually beaming barista, and as I take out my $3.25 in cash i look up to see her already standing at the machine, with shit-eating grin incarnate on her face. "It's on me tonight," she says. I flush with teen discomfort as I stammer a "wow, really?! thank you!" and walk up to the bar to pick up a Times on the stand. I didn't get her number out of respect for her having nothing to do with a man who orders mochas. Also, I'm a toddler. But I made sure I expressed my gratitude.
Bout an hour later, I went back for a sandwich and paid for the girl in front of me as she gave her order to that barista. Despite inadvertently encouraging the sale of pumpkin spice lattes, it was otherwise a circle of gratefulness, surprise, and more gratefulness. The barista wouldn't take any gifts, sadly.
So as I sat down with my cup and sammich, opened my laptop, and started thinking about these "small acts of kindness." But wait. I'm not ranting about humanity yet. There is more story.
For context: around me, the whole "small acts of kindness" thing never really happens. Like, ever. I've been robbed in my school's locker rooms a lot more than I've had my coffee paid for. But my jaw dropped when I realized the whole string of events from this morning to right now, and realized just how much kindness had come my way.
Hubski, my morning started off with a rare smile today. I found a notice on my mom's work desk, from an NJ-based organization, letting my mom know that her appeal for energy/heating bill assistance was covered in the form of complete elimination of her debts to PSE&G. It was about three quarters of her monthly pay, and a little more than she was approved for unemployment for the month. I put the letter back on her desk, and wrote an email to the company explaining that I was the kid of a family they assisted, and thanking them for the help. My mom ended up telling me anyway, and it was a really cool moment for us.
Two hours later, I found my way onto this old thread on reddit, and read this amazing story. Just a nice boost of the ol' humanity.
Soon after, my mom got a call that kept her on the phone for two hours. When she hung up, she giddily told me that one of her old colleagues found out she was fired from news about the strike. She hadn't told any of her friends. The guy had just called to offer her a partnership in his private company, promising at least 20 private clients her first week, minus the bullshit paperwork of being a clinician for a non-profit organization. She's starting work again tomorrow.
Well, I hadn't connected all the dots of good-will coming to my mother and I today, until I got that coffee and sat down. Actually, i didn't connect all the dots until I started writing this post, which was supposed to be a brief paragraph talking about how happy I was to have my mocha purchased for me by a cute barista. Now it's a more-than-paragraph, but I kinda feel like I owe it to.. the world..? to say how grateful I am that compassion and the act of giving are present around me, and practiced by so many amazing, beautiful people. I'm lucky, I mean I feel really lucky, and I really hope everyone reading this seizes their next opportunity to do something nice for someone. Something really, really, small and nice for someone. About $3.25 worth, perhaps, might get someone to realize all the awesome in their day and wipe away a month of stress and grief in an instant.
I hope you've managed to wade through my terrible writing and get what I'm trying to say. I should start sleeping. Anyway, I gotta get back to studying. Take care everyone, I hope things get better for all of you, even if they're great now :)