It’s been a rainy, kind of full (aw-full) week, but today was a beautiful, sunny day. After a full morning, I went to run some errands which included going to the library. Spent a little time getting some things together and then needed to print them. As I went to the printer, a teacher friend from years gone by was right there. It was so fun to connect and laugh and reminisce for a bit. I don’t think we were talking too loud for the library….but, it appears we definitely were in the way of a certain someone.
You see, we were talking in front of the printer. And it was obvious that there was a grown man who needed to use it. He walked right up with no hesitation whatsoever and stood between us (no personal space allowed) and made it clear that he had something to print out. And do you know what he was printing? I’m smiling as I write this. Coupons for free Chobani yogurt. He printed a BUNCH of them. And he proceeded to hand one to me and one to my friend and told us that we had best use them soon because they expire very quickly and we don’t want to miss out. He felt like he had a thing of value to share..and he shared it freely. We thanked him and he was quickly off to other beneficiaries. He next offered it to an older man who I could tell right away was not too keen on eating yogurt. He kindly declined the offer for the free coupon and even when the giving man persisted, the older man insisted that this coupon need not be wasted on someone that was not going to use it. (The kind older man reminded me of a few men I know with similar convictions to never eat yogurt. You know who you are 🙂 )
My friend and I smiled and went our separate ways (with our valued Chobani coupons of course). I know that many would label this man mentally-challenged or intellectually disabled. But he was socially motivated and a born encourager. He was a man with a mission and was intentional about sharing what he saw as valuable. He didn’t let any hidden barriers or social ‘norms’ keep him from being the bearer of gifts. He even spent 15 cents a copy, by the way! He spread a lot of smiles, and probably encouraged some people to go out and get their free yogurt. Made my quick trip to the library really sweet.
But I must say, he wasn’t much of a rule follower because at the top of the coupon it stated in all CAPS- “MANUFACTURER’S COUPON – DO NOT COPY.” Yeah, but then again, if he were a rule follower, he probably would’ve never interrupted my friend and I or marched to the computer with such direct assertiveness. He wouldn’t have breached the social ‘norm’ of not engaging strangers… and we wouldn’t have been encouraged by his sweet giving spirit. Sometimes breaking ‘rules’ or social norms isn’t such a bad thing…especially when social norms are so good at dividing. Am thinking that while his mission may have been to share Chobani yogurt, that the impact of his actions went a bit bigger and wider than and had a lot more value than a free coupon. He left a whole lot of smiling people in his wake. Even the reluctant man who was very clear that he didn’t quite value the yogurt. Even that man was smiling big. Yeah, the value seemed to be in way more than in the (illegally-printed) coupons … And the sweet man who didn’t follow rules quite so well seemed to help us see the value in each other. Love that.
Here’s to crossing paths with kind strangers today… Or better yet, here’s to being them…
“…let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth….”
I John 3:18