Kindness Comes in Threes

The barista asked if I wanted my double espresso hot or cold, and I looked at him like he’d asked if I wanted it over mayonnaise. Cold? People drink espresso–straight espresso–cold?

Yeah, he told me. Over ice. You should try it.

Yeah, okay.

When he gave it to me he said, “It’s on me. If you don’t like it you can buy a hot one.”

I liked it.

I went outside and crossed the street, where I spotted a friend enjoying the sunny Chicago afternoon on a restaurant patio. She called me over to share that she’d heard someone say something kind about me, which is both kind of them to say and kind of her to share.

Turning to leave that brief surprise interaction, I was stopped by a woman on the same patio with her young daughter, a woman I recognized as a parent from my young daughter’s school, a mom I have heard on more than one after-school walk home imploring her kindergartner to stop: stop hitting his sister, stop dawdling, stop crying. I’ve taken note because he has the same name as me. I cringe whenever I hear her scold him, and it takes me several minutes to stop feeling ashamed for crying in the street.

Anyway, she stops me to ask me it the name she heard my friend use to address me is really my name, and by the time she gets to the part where she tells me that’s also her son’s name I’m already there. “Oh, you know because you’ve heard me yelling at him?” A laugh laced with understanding passes between us and we shake hands.

Any one of those encounters would have made my day. But for all three of them to cascade into one another like that on a beautiful May afternoon in the city? Come on, nobody’s life is this charmed.

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