Water and Coffee

Ashley - Keansburg, New Jersey
Entered on April 29, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

Water and Coffee

It was Thursday afternoon when my dad brought home a brand new bike, fully equipped with a water bottle and seat pouch. Later on that day, when I was vigorously bike riding on the Henry Hudson trail, a man walking at a snail’s pace in the opposite direction looked as if he was about to faint. It had hit record temperature that morning; it was 87 degrees before noon and one the hottest, humid, dog days of August. I had little water left, was extremely dehydrated, and far from home.

I was about to drink the last sip and keep riding when something inside of me said, “Just give it to him.” I didn’t know this rather skinny, flakey skinned, 40 year old man, but I could tell, I could feel, that he was thirsty, had a hard day, hard life, and no money. I slowed down coming to a complete stop and said,” Here have the rest of my water.” His eyes sparkled and from the bottom of his heart he thanked me. I struggled home thinking of my good deed, and wondered if I would ever cross paths with him again.

A year later…as a full time college student, I grew dependent on coffee. One morning I woke up with a craving. I got to my 9:30 class at 9:35 as usual. Everyone had coffee making it seem as if America really did run on Dunkin. I thought about getting a cup for the next four hours as I was sitting in class. On my drive home, I questioned if I should stop however, something told me to wait. I figured the “something” was my internal accountant reminding me how little money I had. I’ll fill you in; I had about five dollars to my name and still had to buy my 76 dollar chemistry book, 40 dollar lacrosse stick, and needed at least 10 for gas, which would barely bring the needle above E.

I passed two more Dunkin Donuts on my way home before pulling into the third, knowing I shouldn’t stop. My excuse: I needed a caffeine boost and a Red Bull cost just as much. As I pulled into the parking lot, a man in green pickup truck cut me off to get to the drive through before me. This maneuver angered me so I chose to park and go inside just to avoid waiting behind him. I had never been inside this Dunkin Donuts before.

As I walked in, the crowd control stanchions were a little confusing, so I didn’t quite know which way to walk to get to the register. The employees were literally looking at me and laughing. I had the nerve to say,” I’ve never been inside here before so cut me some slack.” The female, her hair pulled neatly back in a bun, with a colorful visor and matching shirt replied, “It’s not that…” she was interrupted by a male employee whose nametag read Jerry,” The guy at the drive thru wants to buy you whatever you want.” I blushed relieved they weren’t laughing at me. I ordered a medium French vanilla coffee light and sweet, my favorite.

As I got back into my car, I recalled something I read from a book by Mitch Albom, “No story sits by itself. Sometimes stories meet at corners and sometimes they cover one another completely, like stones beneath a river.” I made the connection. All day I had been craving that cup of coffee but something told me be patient. My life had then crossed paths with this unknown man who helped relieve my financial worry and treat me to a very much needed cup of coffee. It reminded me of the man I once helped relieve. As I drove away, blowing on the vanilla scented steam, I thought; I believe in the kindness of strangers and the crossing of lives.