Simple Gifts

Last week, I happened to be out when I realized I needed a plastic fork. I had some leftover food that I wanted to eat, and since I didn’t have easy access to kitchens, I decided I needed to make a plan.

I noticed a coffee shop across the street. I thought I would wander in there, find something small to purchase, and additionally ask for a fork.

That’s what I did. I wandered inside, picked up a package of mini, chocolate-dipped sponge cakes, and I stood in the line. When it was my turn, the barista began to ring me up. That’s when I asked, “Oh, also, could I have a fork?”

“Yeah,” she said. She turned around, picked one up, and handed it to me. Suddenly, she realized I probably wasn’t going to eat this little snack with this little piece of cutlery. She realized I had come specifically for the fork.

“Oh, you know, you don’t have to buy this to have the fork. You can just have it.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

I mean, for a moment, I thought about how good mini, chocolate-dipped sponge cakes are. I also thought about how I didn’t really need them in the moment. I just thought about needing the fork.

And here she was, just giving it to me. Such a simple thing.

How often do we assume that interactions have to be transactional in some way?

Of course, sometimes baristas and managers think this themselves.

But sometimes, folks can just give away a fork. And sometimes, with gratitude, we can receive it. And that’s enough.

Renee Roederer

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