Tonight, I'm in line to buy about ten small gift cards at Starbucks for my coworkers. The barista is unfazed; he's pleasant and routine.
However, I've noticed a line has built up behind me with one cashier open. There's about seven people, none of whom look particularly in a rush save for an older man right behind me.
He overhears my request, and as it becomes clear the process of making ten gift cards isn't a quick one, he starts breathing impatiently. I look behind me to see him understandably annoyed. It's been a long day, and he just wants his mocha.
Although understanding his annoyance, his clear frustration is also annoying.
But instead of getting annoyed right back and also feeling bad that I've held up the line, I pull an audible.
I lean into the barista.
"Sir, going back to the man in the Georgetown ball cap near the door, I'd like to pay for everyone's drink."
"Everyone. Right back to the man in the ball cap."
He smirks pleasantly.
The annoyed, older man behind me hadn't heard this. His drink had been made while my gift cards were being rung up, and he went over to grab it.
He goes to give the barista his card, and gets a finger in my direction.
"He's paying for it, Sir."
"This gentleman bought your drink."
He looks supremely confused. The wiring that had allowed him to throw mental daggers at me just a moment prior is short-circuiting.
He looks amazed, near childlike.
"Oh... Okay. I don't understand it, but thank you."
He walked toward the door and looked back at me, still confused.
The next person came forward, and I was delighted to see their surprise. It was a gesture that made them smile, all saying "thank you!" and several "Happy Holidays!"
For that moment, they are genuinely happy.
I got to relive that smile seven times in less than two minutes, and it was completely worth it.
I took a negative that initially angered me and turned it into a moment that older man is not going to forget, at least this month.
I really, really love this time of year.