Yesterday I was in line at Starbucks for my morning cup of coffee. There were about four or five people in front of me, including the man with the stand-up collar. He looked like a business man, and the collar was an accident.
I debated with myself whether to say anything. Every once in a while I bump into someone who doesn’t want to be bothered so I wondered if he would be irritated if I mentioned his collar. I decided to take the risk.
“Your collar is standing up,” I said, as I touched it lightly. “Thanks,” he said, reaching for the disobedient collar.
I began a conversation with him. We talked about the weather. I told him about our trip to Kings Canyon the day before. I found out he works for a food distribution company, and his territory goes from Fresno to Sacramento. His name was Pat.
He queued up to the counter and ordered his coffee. He said to the barista, “I want to buy him a coffee.” Turning to me he said, “You’ve been kind to me; I want to buy you a coffee. What would you like?”
I’ll probably never see Pat again. This was one of those chance encounters we all have every day. However, I think Pat’s response to my gesture was indicative of the desire we all have to be treated politely and kindly by our fellow human beings. At any moment on any day, there are people all around us who will respond positively to kindness.
And sometimes it’s no more than saying, “Your collar is standing up.”