I promised another story about a random act of kindness for this week, and in keeping with that theme, I decided to review another Starbucks treat, since last week's review of the Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar is where this all began.
Have you seen the Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop at Starbucks? It is quite festive! It's a round, white chocolate pop sprinkled with candy cane pieces and crystalized sugar. Inside is a soft, chewy brownie. I loved the candy cane pieces and chunks of sugar on the outside of the pop. I was initially skeptical about putting peppermint candy cane with a brownie, but the combination of flavors actually worked well. By the time you bite through the candy cane/sugar, and the white chocolate shell, the peppermint flavor is muted enough not to overpower the brownie. The brownie cake center is chocolatey, and soft and chewy, although I must say it was a little bit softer than I anticipated. As I do not have that much experience with cake pops, I am wondering if this is true of all cake pops or just Starbucks. I will have to do some investigating!
On to my next random act of kindness story! This happened to me last spring at Disney World in Florida.
I was getting dinner for two of my children at Casey's in the Magic Kingdom. If you've never been there, it's basically a large hot dog and fries place with outdoor seating only. The seating area can be quite crowded, especially if there is a castle show or parade about to start. So that night, we bought our food and drinks and looked around for a place to sit. It was packed, but there was a standing-only table where the three of us could stand around and eat. We put our food down, and continued to scout for a table. After some time, I noticed a family leaving a table and told my son to run over and grab it, and we would follow with all of the food and drinks and bags.
He went off, and my daughter and I carefully loaded up hot dogs, fries, and drinks and maneuvered through the crowd. When I got to the table about twenty seconds later, my son was indeed sitting, but there were also two adults and two children filling out the rest of the table. I asked him what happened and he told me that after he sat down, the family had just come over and taken all of the remaining chairs. He looked rather uncomfortable. I explained to the man now sitting with my son, that my son had gotten the table for us while I collected our food. He looked at me and said, "Well he didn't have any food and we have our food here now, so it's our table." I again explained that my son was sitting down first, and that we obviously were bringing food to the table, as we were still carrying all of the food and drinks, and that I couldn't believe he would just sit down with someone else's child. He insisted that it was now his table, and his family proceeded to begin eating.
I was torn between complete exasperation that someone had done this to a twelve year old, and panic at the fact that we were now standing in a huge crowd with nowhere to go with our food. I looked back over to our standing table and saw that indeed, while we were arguing with the man, someone had taken our standing table, and now there really was nowhere at all to go.
It was one of those moments when you are almost paralyzed by indignation and frustration. I was standing in the middle of a packed seating area, loaded down with food, my son sitting in the middle of a family that had no regard for us and refused to move, and I really didn't know what to do. As I was trying in vain to think of something else that I could say, knowing full well that nothing that I said would have made a difference, a woman suddenly swooped in. "We're done, you can have our table," she said.
She led me to an area a few tables away, and pointed at a pre-teen boy who was eating a giant chili dog. "You go ahead and finish that," she said to him, "And these nice people are going to join you." I asked her if it was really okay and she insisted that we should take the table. I thanked her repeatedly.
So the three of us sat down and introduced ourselves to the young man eating his chili dog. "Your mother is a very nice woman," I told him. "She's not my mother. She's my stepmom's mom. It's complicated," he said. "Well, she's a very nice person," I repeated. He was an incredibly polite, well-mannered young man. We found out that his family was from Louisiana, and we enjoyed chatting with him, and even shared a joke or two. When we were done eating we stood up to leave and wished him a good trip. As we left the area, I saw the woman who had given up the table, and she waved and smiled. I noticed that she was standing at one of the standing-only tables, and that some members of her family were still eating, standing up.
I don't know why the woman gave her table up for me. Maybe she saw my frustration. Maybe she saw what had happened and wanted to help. Whatever the reason was, I was incredibly thankful in that moment, that someone noticed, and that someone cared. I was even more thankful, and incredulous, when I saw that she had not really been finished eating. She had made a sacrifice for me, and for my kids.
So thank you, kind woman from Louisiana. Whenever I recall how I felt that day, alone with my kids and feeling bullied into giving up our table, I think of you, and how you turned an unpleasant situation into something else. And when I tell the story, you are the star.
That's the power of kindness.
Have a great week.