I walked up to the Easter-decorated counter at the Nugget Market Cafe and ordered my cup of hot water and a banana. The college-aged Indian girl behind the counter smiled generously at me and rang up my order. 34 cents.
I dug around in my large, black and white Volcom purse for my coin pouch, but I had just switched purses and forgot to transfer it. And I had no cash. So I asked if there was a charge to pay with my card.
“No—but hold on!” she started digging through something. I lifted my chin a little to see above the register and take a glance at what she had diverted her attention to. It was her purse. She pulled out her wallet and scrambled through it to find 34 cents. After about a minute and a half, she found the change and paid for my banana. I kept telling her that was unnecessary and I could easily pay with a card, but she insisted and went out of her way to scramble through her wallet and find the 34 cents.
There was no reason for it. She couldn’t even accept tips because of company policy. What was her motive? Why should she care if I had to pay with my card—there wasn’t even a charge! I realize it is only 34 cents, but it is the principle behind it that is so inspiring. I got a free banana, which really wasn’t free at all. She paid for it. What generosity and kindness she extended to me!
This made me think of another interaction I encountered once when buying a shirt at Gottschalks for my mom. I had exact cash. Well, almost. After scrambling through my purse to gather all the change, I was still short a penny. Yes, a single penny. I chuckled and smiled at the cashier, then asked if she could let me slide on the penny. Her face remained serious as she looked me straight in the eyes and responded: “no, I can’t do that.” I laughed thinking she was being sarcastic and then stopped in my laughter once I realized she was serious…about a penny. So I dug through my large, round purse again to no avail. And she just watched me with no emotion and without care. Finally, my husband walked over and gave me a penny from his pocket.
I don’t know the girl at Nugget Market Café, but I like her. I appreciate her even though I wouldn’t have minded paying with my card. Her very random act of generosity intrigued me, surprised me and blessed me.
In short, she inspired me.
“God, May we give freely as You have given freely to us. May we act generously without reason or even against all reason. May we extend grace regardless of the cost. Enable us to imitate You as we live by Your Spirit. Amen.”
“Freely you have received, freely give.” -Matthew 10:8