Friday, November 03, 2006

It's nice to be wrong

I stopped at my usual morning coffee joint this morning to grab a cup of joe, before catching the train. There was a short line, and while I don't like waiting in line any more than anyone else does, it did do my heart some good to see that a Mom & Pop is able to keep up a clientele. In front of me were a couple of student types. They weren't being particularly obnoxious, actually they were seeming fairly human and good natured. They put in their order, ponied up their money and were waiting for order as the girl started flailing around with her purse at the counter. In her wild gyrations trying to balance cell phone, wallet and god knows what else, she managed to send the tip jar on top of the cash register flying, change sailed through the air, tinkling around the floor behind the cash register. They looked at each other in embarrassment and they both started to apologize.

Okay, so I am an old crank. Considering how people behave these days I should have been satisfied by the fact that they at least said sorry. All I could think of was that they should watch what they were doing. The man who works behind the counter is very nice and just shrugged it off, saying not to worry about it. He handed them their order and they went off to cream and sugar their coffees, the guy giving his girlfriend a good natured hard time, and continuing to apologize as they went.

I moved up to give my order, when the couple came jinking back up to the counter, dashed in behind it and began to pick up all the change and put it back in the tip cup. They scrambled around on the floor for a few minutes, while the proprietor was assuring them that "No, really it was fine." But bless their little hearts, they gathered things up, and the young man took the tip jar and but it back on the counter, saying "I think I'd better be the one to put it down." As they headed out, he told the patrons waiting in line that they had to help fill the jar back up, since he was sure some of the money got lost under counter.

So, I was wrong. I'm a big enough man to admit it. There really are some people left who are not entitled to screw up and then excuse themselves, or place the blame elsewhere. It was a small thing, but it was consideration, which no matter how small, is always a big thing. Maybe that is the way we can start to fix the mess we're all in, in this big and bad world. Taking care of the small things, and if we keep it up maybe, after we have got the hang of fixing the small things all the time the big things will start to look do-able.