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I did something yesterday that I’ve never done before.

I offered to buy a homeless man a coffee and a pastry.

I wanted to share my reasoning, thought processes and subsequent experience should anyone else relate to it. 

Now I’ve been following the suspended coffee movement for a while, it’s a great concept but I hadn’t seen that many opportunities to act on it and if I am completely honest it just became that token goodwill story on my newsfeed that cynical old-me ignored most of the time. 

Yesterday I saw a post about a recent cynic who converted to the movement after watching founder John Sweeney’s TedX talk - Why Kindness Matters. Procrastination led me to hit play and hear what John had to say. (see below)

Less than 2 hours later sat outside Kings Cross Station, someone asked me if I had any change. I replied with my default response, ’No sorry, I don’t have any.’ And only after he had walked away I wondered if I could execute the call-to-action John had been talking about. 

What surprised me most when I was challenging my own behaviours was how nervous I got. It felt the same as when you’re about to get on stage or ask a question after a presentation. I realised, I was nervous about 2 things 

  1. fear of rejection - that he would turn down my offer
  2. the shame of other Londoners overhearing that rejection

My rational brain kicked in and I decided to test my preconceptions. Once I thought he, who I now know as Bryan, seemed to be out of earshot from passersby I offered him a cup of coffee. Bryan smiled and said he’d love a cappuccino. We spent the next 5 minutes in a coffee kiosk deciding on which pastry to get whilst chatting about Finsbury Park and how Bryan came to be in Kings Cross that day. 

I sometimes find chitchat a bit difficult, so I filled an awkward silence with ‘there seems to be a lot of love going into that coffee’, Bryan replied, ‘There’ll be a lot of love drinking that coffee too.’ Bryan decided to sit down with his very sugary cappuccino and laced chocolate pastry outside the cafe and I had to leave to find my friend*. He hugged me and said thank you. 

Now I don’t think for one moment that I’ve made a lasting impact on Bryan. I find it easier (and less cringing) to see it as a test for myself. Fear of rejection was a barrier on my doing random acts of kindness. Bryan has showed me it’s not that scary at all.

Because, as a wise sage once told me, the thought is always worse than the deed.

Kindness Shared.

*Thanks to the Giraffe Kiosk Barista that gave us one cappuccino on the house.

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