Unexpected Kindness: A Caffeinated Tale

Unexpected Kindness: A Caffeinated Tale

My night owl son, Greg, just moved back to the Twin Cities and is living at home until his furniture arrives. He likes to head out between 9 and 10 each evening for coffee, and I often go with him in search of a coffee shop open late at night.

Last Saturday evening we set out for Uptown, where he’ll soon reside, to visit the Starbucks on Hennepin and 22nd. It was raining and unseasonably cold, and I had to leap over a wide puddle to get from my car to the sidewalk.

We hurried inside where, to our surprise, we encountered a couple dozen tall young African men, some seated and some milling around. Dressed in business casual, they were speaking animatedly in a foreign language, but moved aside politely to let us pass through them.

A petite young redhead took our order. I am always curious about where people are from, and I couldn’t help but ask, making a somewhat-educated guess, “Are these men from Ethiopia or Somalia?” I knew my words might sound disapproving, so I added, “I teach English to Ethiopians and Somalis.”

“I don’t know,” she replied, “I think Somalia.”

“Did they rent out this place for the evening?” Greg asked. The men seemed to fill the entire coffee shop, but looking around, I noticed an African American woman behind a laptop and, sitting in the back hallway, a white couple.

“No, no,” she told us. “All I know is that they come in every night. And,” gesturing toward her colleague, an older white woman, “they always stay past closing time to make sure we get home okay.”

Greg and I exchanged a surprised look—what unexpected kindness! I have never thought of offering this kind of favor, and I felt both touched and humble. Familiar feelings because I experienced a great deal of unexpected kindness when I lived in Turkey.

unexpected kindness

A group of folks a long way from home had managed to create a cozy coffee circle. Greg and I stood thoughtfully, waiting for our drinks.

For this “unexpected kindness” Starbucks and other great Uptown, Minneapolis coffee shops, go to:




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