So I have a story of incidental (or accidental) kindness, depending on how you look at it.
Recently I found myself at the local cafe, ordering my regular morning coffee to take away. I noticed one of my new staff members, a property manager (PM), sitting down by himself, quietly enjoying his own morning coffee whilst reading the paper.
As I stood at the counter waiting to pay, thinking about the day ahead, the owner gestured he was ready to take my payment. He pointed over to my staff member asking if we were paying together, and I replied “yes of course, but don’t tell him it was me who paid!”
As I tried to sneak out quietly, leaving my PM to enjoy his little surprise, another couple approached the counter to pay, to which the owner replied: “no need, your money is not accepted here”. I paused. The couple looked confused, handing the owner some cash. The owner refused, smiling, then explaining: “somebody else has paid for you this morning as a surprise, I cannot take your money”. I put my head down, thinking quickly to myself, as to how to best handle this, running through the possible scenarios in my head.
Of course I can’t say ‘no, wrong person’. But if I then ask the owner to add the extra cup of coffee for my PM, he will realize he has got it wrong also.
Best thing to do: just run out of there and let the moment happen. The owner still delivers the happy news to his random couple. The random couple still has their breakfast on me. I don’t embarrass anybody. As for my ‘not in the know’ PM, I’ll make up for it later.
But before I could disappear, the couple insist on knowing who had paid, to which the owner gestured to me. The look and smile on their faces was priceless. I said: “have a great day!” Then I ran.
Moral of the story: there is no accidental or incidental kindness. Somebody is always the driver. So be the driver.