I was on my way to TEDx Orange Coast; It was to be an inspirational kind of day. As I exited the freeway, I thought, “I had better pick up some coffee before heading in,” so, within two minutes I was at the nearest Starbucks.
It was busy, and the line was long, which generally gives me time to do two things: 1. Figure out what to order (I rarely get the same thing twice in a row), and 2. People watch. It was about this time that I noticed the homeless man through the store window. He was smoking a cigarette. By this time, I knew what I was going to get, and I figured that maybe I could preempt the impending request for money, and bring him something to eat. As I approached the counter, one transaction at a time, I kept watching him to see if he was sticking around or not. Interestingly, I did not see him ask anyone for money.
And then, he was gone.
I was two people from the counter when he came inside the store and walked past me on my right. He proceeded, not in a straight line, but circumventing people and displays, up to the counter where he did something that kept my attention.
He put money in the tip jar.
I was astounded! I can’t say how many people pretended to not notice. He muttered something to the cashier, but she didn’t acknowledge him. He then returned back to his spot outside the store.
As I made my purchase and walked out, I wanted so badly to ask him why he left a tip. I wanted to inquire of him why he wasn’t asking for money, but I didn’t have time. I gave him a chocolate-chip cookie (for breakfast?), we exchanged a few words, and I was gone. But I haven’t been able to shake the wonder of that moment. This is not my regular Starbucks. I don’t know this man. I certainly don’t know his methods, habits, or motivations. This may be part of his routine.
Am I overthinking it?
My assumptions were challenged. My perspectives were adjusted. And, in the lifelong quest to “not judge a book by its cover,” I would like to think that I am leaning a little more toward the “not judging” side. We’ll see, won’t we?