“Enjoy Your Tea”.
Sometimes I have been called a curmudgeon. I’m not sure if that is accurate or not. I can see why some might use the term to describe me, though. I do sometimes enjoy rants against things that annoy me. I call out the plastic, superficial nature of our society quite often. 90% of the shiny objects that enrapture most other people fail to impress me, and I say so. The people that impress others also tend to fall flat to me in big ways, and I mention that as well.
The net result of these traits of mine is that I sometimes appear to others to have little to celebrate. That I almost never see the good to anything. This isn’t true, but I think that as an introvert my default position is to say little and observe much in the world around me. Yet as an Unglebower I am hard wired to point out when something has pissed me off. Especially something pertaining to unfairness or incompetence.
The result is that what I enjoy or appreciate is sometimes left within the confines of my thoughts, to be drawn on internally. I realize however that I could, and probably should vocalize, (or write down) the pleasant stuff a bit more often than I am wont to do by default. It may never happen as often as I express the frustrating experiences, but today I’ll make a step towards sharing more stories of good fortune.
On Tuesday I met up with a friend of mine for an hour or so. We agreed to meet at a local coffee and tea shop. I had only been there once before, so I didn’t remember what they had available. I chose the location because of its convenience, not because of its menu.
I got in there and saw the dozens of exotic teas available. My tastes being simple, I didn’t know what any of these drinks were like, or if I would even enjoy them. At first I didn’t want to look like a tea-rube. But once I get up to the counter, I said to myself, “The hell with it.”
“I’d like the plainest, most boring green tea you have,” I said.
And they did have one, and they started to make it. While they did that I looked around and read all the signs to see if they said “Cash Only”, because I only had my card on me. I didn’t see any such signs, but when I went to pay the couldn’t take my bank card because my purchase was less than five dollars.
“As a small business, the card fees kill us,” he said. I apologized for wasting their time and their tea, but the proprietor balked.
“Just take the tea now, and when you have the cash on you, come give it to us.”
I wasn’t sure what he meant, until I asked him to say it again.
“You don’t want me to sign something, or get my address or anything,” I asked, the tea still untouched on the counter.
“Until you give us a reason, we have no reason not to trust you. Enjoy the tea.”
I thanked him, took the tea and went outside to wait for my friend. (Who eventually paid for my drink anyway, so I no longer owe the shop any money.)
I would have paid of course. I actually planned to make the trip to pay them back in cash the next day. But the $2.50 or whatever it was would never have covered how impressed I was by the gesture. Or the fact that he didn’t even think about it. It came to him right away to let me pay later. I guess it must happen a lot.
Good business practice? A marketing technique to establish loyalty? I guess the cynic in me could see it as being those things. And in fact, so what if it was those things? The fact is I could have walked out of this dude’s place of business with some of his product, and he very well may never have been compensated for it. I could have never come back. He wouldn’t know how to find me, if I had been so inclined as to just take the tea and go. But he allowed it to happen anyway.
Had my friend not paid, and had I never come back, my theft (and that is what it would have been) would not have broken his bank of course. But it would have still meant a net loss for him. He took that risk on a stranger.
I suppose sometimes we all can take a risk on a stranger. Or a strange situation. A new path that hasn’t been tested. The last thing I want to do is be one of those, “stretch your comfort zone everyday” gurus, but I will advocate just doing for someone (or for yourself) sometimes, even if you don’t know what if any pay off will result. I do that on occasion, and I try to do it more and more all the time.
A deferred payment on a green tea has made it a little bit easier for me to do so the next time.
Have you ever been surprised and then motivated by a gesture such as this? Let me know.