She entered the cafe pushing a small, scratchy pram. Not one of those Rolls Royce varieties complete with inflatable wheels and detachable everythings. This pram was a humble affair, almost more suitable for a doll than an infant.
Nonetheless, burrowed into the nylon hammock, lay a sleeping babe, pudgy and swollen with milk and love. She was dressed in cute and delight, a ribbon wrapped round her soft head, her feet encased in soft cotton. Her mother couldn’t have been more than 18 years old.
The young Mum slipped in at the back of the queue, her cheeks pin-pricked with red exertion, and yet her face radiated sighs of relief. She’d been walking, I concluded, to soothe her child to sleep.
I was leaning against a sidewall, awaiting my order, when I heard the mother quietly exhale in frustration to herself. She’d left her wallet behind.
I watched her some more, reading her embarrassment, but also her disappointment. Only a small thing, for sure, but on this morning, she wouldn’t be ordering a coffee and snatching a quiet moment to herself after all.
I stepped up to collect my cup of russet coloured coffee, and at the same time discreetly pressed a $5 note into the barista’s hand, “Please, take the young mother’s coffee order.”
I quickly turned and walked out. I didn’t want the woman to know. I didn’t want her to feel awkward or like she had to gush with gratitude. I wanted her to enjoy her coffee.
I spilled into a busy stretch of hours, not giving this brief encounter another thought. That is until the following day.
I had gone to collect a parking voucher for my car, only to find, slipped into a crevice on the face of the parking meter, a fully paid-for voucher, with near two-hours left of parking to fill. Some kind Soul had made the effort to return their largely unspent ticket back to the meter for another person to use. On that morning, that person happened to me.
I smiled. I didn’t know who this cool person was. But I was grateful to them. Grateful for this generous act. I had a sudden conviction of our sense of separateness as illusion. We’re not alone out here. We’re part of a clan. The grand, often crazy, human clan. And we don’t need to bare witness to each other’s smallest acts of earnest intention. We just need to appreciate them, and pass them on.
Hey Human. I’m glad I’m apart of your clan.