The story of a man who, while getting his order in a coffee cafe, shows each of us how to start a ripple effect of spreading smiles, kindness, and happiness by giving away his new tie to a stranger, simply because the man said he liked the tie. His random act resonates with me, as I still smile and feel the joy on that stranger’s face.
His story begins upon his return from his vacation in Portugal, where he purchased the tie. Think about the trinkets you bring home from your cherished vacations. Look around your home. Each time you look at one of them the memory flows through you and the feelings return, as a smile and happiness flood your soul. I imagine this man felt this way about this tie, as wearing it allowed him to carry a piece of his memories, the sites, sounds, and smells to pull him right back to his vacation.
Last Wednesday this man goes into the coffee cafe, which happens to be in the building of my doctor, walks up to the counter and places his order. The clerk taking his order, a tall, thin younger man with his hair pulled back in a pony tail dressed nicely, as always, begins admiring his tie, telling the man how much he likes it. The man tells him how he just returned from his vacation where he purchased the tie in a little shop.
In an amazing moment and random act of kindness, the man loosens his tie just enough to slip it over his head and then hands it to the young clerk. The clerk is slightly embarrassed and stunned, saying that he couldn’t accept the gift. The man insists that yes he could and would accept it. The clerk places it over his head, pulls his pony tail out of it, slides it under collar, and tightens it. His face is beaming. He thanks the man profusely. The man walks away and leaves the cafe.
My doctor goes into the cafe later in the day to get her soup. The young clerk is smiling, beaming as he takes her order. She comments about how happy he is today. He tells her the story. As she’s telling me the story, her face is lights up and she’s smiling, as this story and his happiness leap to her. Now she is spreading it to me and every other person she tells the story.
This story is a perfect example of how one act of selflessness and kindness, one simple act causes a ripple effect, one that this man initiated but did not witness the subsequent chain of effects. In one act, he generously gave smiles and happiness to so many people. His act inspired others to reciprocate in kind by doing small acts themselves. As I left the building that day, people were smiling more, opening the door for one another, standing back and letting others go first, and the cafe was filled with laughter.
My hope is by sharing the story of one man, who so generously gave away his tie, a piece of his memories, to a stranger and how that stranger spread the effect, it will inspire you to act intentionally in any gesture to cause your own positive, joyful, kind ripple effect. At least reading this story, the chain of effects continues as I hope the story makes you smile, brings you joy, and causes you to share it with others, thereby continuing its cycle.