“You know how I like to have a cup of tea before getting on a plane?”
“Well, before boarding I ran over to the Starbucks, but it was closing…”
Karen is calling from LAX, she’s flying to New York. I dropped Karen off at the airport twenty minutes ago and already this is our second phone conversation.
“By the way,” she adds, “where are you now?”
“Just pulling into the driveway.”
It’s just Casa Avrech and yours truly for the next few days. When Karen is gone I spend a lot of time wandering around the house, going from room to room like a nightwatchman making rounds.
“The hot tea?”
“Right, so the Starbucks is closing and I run up to the Starbucks guy and tell him that I need hot water—not even a tea bag.”
Karen carries her own tea bags in her little leather backpack.
“He got me the hot water. He could have just closed up, I mean I was just one customer.”
“He decided to be nice.”
“So I said to him: ‘How much do I owe you?’ And he said, get this: ‘Just a smile.’”
“Really. Just a smile. That’s all I owed him.”
“So, did you smile?”
“I don’t know. I was so shocked that I’m not sure I gave him his smile. Robert, I’m telling you, I felt like I was in a Frank Capra movie.”
Sad really, that the most basic courtesy/kindness is so completely unnerving and unexpected.