The smell of my psychiatrist’s office turned my stomach as it always does when I’m overly anxious. I kept my focus on the tight small breaths through my mouth and the used tissue that I twirled in my hand as the elevator ever so slowly made its way down one whole floor.
The ground bounced below me then came to a halt and an elderly woman in a beige dress coat who was shaking her umbrella in the hallway appeared when the doors slid open. She looked me over noticing that I had nothing but the scarf wrapped around my neck to shield my head from the cold autumn rain and snidely remarked, “Didn’t you know that it has been raining all day? You’re going to catch a cold.”
“I’m sure I will,” I murmured as she forced her way into the elevator without letting me pass first. I bit my lower lip and hurried out towards the exit.
I was soaked by the time I got to my car in the parking lot. I stared up at the building and I regretted that I had came. There wasn’t anything – medicine, meditation, exercise, self care – that was saving me from the suffering of depression. I turned on the ignition and I firmly gripped the steering wheel.
And I drove.
At green lights I hit the gas.
The force jerked me backwards into my seat.
I didn’t care how fast I was going or where I was going – I was a reckless bird in an open cage.
Every pole I passed, every guardrail, every fence, every overpass, every truck trailer I could potentially rear end – I pictured my car as lifeless twisted metal.
They could be free, I thought as my heart raced.
I started to panic and eased the pressure of my foot on the gas.
They’re just thoughts Kim, I remembered my psychiatrist saying earlier.
I turned off the expressway and drove until ended up in a Starbucks drive through – because whipped cream and pumpkin lattes. I was met at the window by a blonde barista who, despite the weather, the brown sludge on her forearm, the grumbling line of customers out the door, and the beeping machines, seemed to genuinely care when she asked me with a smile “How is your day going?”
And for some reason, some reason, I broke down right there at the Starbucks drive through and told her how terrible it was.
She stood there the entire time…
When I finished, she poked her head through the window and told me that things will get better then drew a smiley face on my cup.
She ‘shooshed’ me when I tried to apologize and suggested I try the cookies.
I ordered three and drove home to my family.
I don’t know her name, but I wish that I did.
Her small act of kindness was such a blessing to me that day and I’ll never forget that.
You never know how much you can change the course of someone’s day and can potentially change someone’s life.
And you don’t need to perform epic world-saving acts, or commit substantial time out of your day to do it.
Open the door for someone, smile at a stranger, listen to a customer in line at the drive through – remind them that they matter.