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Flipping Faith in Humanity

I lost a little faith in humanity over the last five months. It started with a “friend” who turned into psycho-Satan incarnate. The abrupt end of that relationship made me think, Okay, seriously…. there’s no possible way to trust anyone again.

However, knowing that’s not really true, I picked myself up by the bootstraps and moved on.  In hindsight?  Good riddance.  If someone wants to be Satan, then they can move along.  (And yes, have my permission to put that right on a t-shirt. If you do so, please send me one.)

BUT, other stupid things happened. I felt like it was one thing after the next, and let’s not even talk about the news on the television.

Okay, now I am seriously done with people. ALL of them, I thought.

But the truth was: I didn’t like who I was becoming.

Because it’s never been in in my nature to be “done” with “people.”

I come from a generous family. My parents always had someone living with us—not permanently—but someone was perpetually in our spare room. There was a minister or college kid or exchange student or newly homeless friend… someone always lived in the spare room.  I didn’t think a thing of it.

Apparently, I picked up on this trend in high school when the German exchange student was having a hard time with his placement.

I said, all matter of fact at lunch, “You can come live with us.”

That evening the phone rang. I could hear the voice on the other end of the line, from across the room:
“Good evening! This is Kristoffer and Meredith said I could live with you? When may I come?”

My dad made his trademark throat-clear, and looked over his glasses at me.

(Needless to say, Kristoffer was living with us by the weekend.)


Anyway, fast forward to these last few weeks.

I signed up for Marine Corps Marathon as a pusher for a sweet boy named Logan. I have been fundraising.  I have raised and donated, and also been in a massive give-mode these past few weeks.  I felt better – I was getting out of the funk.  I realized that my lost faith in humanity was literally because of a few rotten apples, then of course the recent news… but that I had to get back to believing in the good, recognizing that I had a reason to keep doing what I was doing… being me.

This morning, I posted a “Happy Hump Day” Starbucks gift card.

I went for a long run this morning, and it was sort of yucky.   I wanted to do something to flip my mood—and I find that doing something nice for other people is often the perfect antidote to bitterness.

So I went to Starbucks and got the card. Loaded some money on it, posted on social media and told people to enjoy a coffee on me.

I had done this a few times before, and each time—someone abuses it—spends a ton of money on it and I vow never to do it again. Disappointing? Yes.  But then I just think, “Breathe. There are 15 other people who were able to enjoy a nice coffee on me. It’s one bad bean in the bunch.”

Back when I worked at my first law firm job, I was going to court with the partner who was headed into retirement.  We were getting out of the car, and he just left his keys in the ignition.

“Hey,” I said, “You left your keys in the—”

He said, “Oh I know. Someone might need a car more than me.”

I stared at him like he was crazy.  Of course, this was Small Town USA, and he was jesting a bit. But I loved that spirit about him.  Always made me laugh, even though I felt the overwhelming urge to take the keys inside with me…. or move his car to “teach him a lesson.”

Generosity. In a way.  Maybe more of  just a free spirit.  I loved it about him.  I learned to relax (a little), and just be free.

I loved that my parents were always, “You can live with us.”

And of course, my grandmother–don’t even get me started about that dear woman’s generosity.

It’s wonderful to be (and to have been) surrounded by generous people.

Today’s Starbucks gift card yielded an interesting transaction, though.

And then it yielded another one.

A few folks in Boston, Washington, and other places across the country purchased their coffees. Then a few others.

Then, in less than a blink, the gift card was completely out of money.  I looked up the history.

Someone in England spent $67.

Then someone in Michigan took it upon themselves
to purchase their own gift card in the amount of $25. 

Something that should have yielded 30+ little gifts for folks was ruined by two assholes.

And just like that, I felt myself get unreasonably mad. What the effing shit… I wanted to crawl back into my hole. I wanted to crawl in my hole and hate people.

But I walked outside, took a little breather… and I made a choice.  I read through the comments on Insta and FB… all the “thank yous” and cheery emojis.  There was SO much more good there.

I flipped my perception. I chose to look at this whole experience as something else entirely.

Was it likely that someone was a dick in England and Michigan and totally pulled one over on me? Yep. But that’s on them.

So check. Karma has them covered.

But what could I do to snap ME out of it?  I was bummed.

So instead, I just made a choice.

  • I choose to picture a Swim Bike Mom in England who was out of money.  Who went to Starbucks with her two young kids, and purchased four protein boxes, six sandwiches, juice boxes, milk, dark chocolate for treats, and a big, deserving Venti Flat White for herself.
  • I pictured a friend in Michigan who took the card and purchased a $25 gift card and went right outside and handed it to someone who desperately needs it. Because she knew I would love that.

I want to be generous. It’s in my spirit and heritage apparently. I won’t stop, and I won’t let anyone take that away.

Regardless of what is true about today’s Starbucks humanity experiment—it’s hard to ever know. It’s hard to know what anyone else is going through. It’s hard to know what intense suffering is happening on the other side of everything.

But what we feel and choose to feel is changes everything for us.

So I’m going to just go with my versions of England and Michigan.

Oh, and as I finished writing this, @Commit_to_Kindness tagged me on Instagram.

That’s some Emotional Oatmeal, right there.  The good is right there all along.. we just have to open our eyes, feel it and breath it in.

Happy Hump Day friends,
Meredith

And if you are feeling generous, please support the Kyle Pease Foundation. 

12 Comments

  • Karen Stark

    August 23, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Hi there! I am your fan in Santa Monica and was struggling with my 12 miler this morning. Santa Monica had a power outage, and Starbucks closed shop, but I did find some coffee and a scone at Back in Broadway. I left a $20.00 bill on a $4.00 tab because I knew it was a shitty morning for the waitress due to the power outage. I’m hopeful people did positive things with your generous gift, but shame on them for not following the rules?

    Reply
  • L

    August 23, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you for posting this today. I needed a reminder. I’ve been volunteer assistant coaching for a triathlon team that raises money for charity. I found out recently that a couple people who have been showing up to workouts all season haven’t fundraised a dime in 2 years. They haven’t volunteered to help support the team with aid stations or anything else, and for that matter, have also been a distraction for people new to the sport and team with their work ethic. The icing on the cake was that one of them says after one of the workouts that she’s been working with (read: paying) another coach to give her some sort of coaching for her race. UGH! How is that even right for those people to show up and take advantage of the organized workouts, the paid facilities (i.e.- pool time), the aid stations, and the coaching they’ve been getting from our coaching crew (which also means that they are taking away coaching time / attention from the people who are actually fundraising)?!? I’ve been prying myself out of bed every weekend since January to help this? And they’re doing nothing to support the cause we’re supposed to be fundraising for??? It’s infuriating. But…I’ve got a team of other people who have been working their tails off. They show up. They fundraise. They’ve been doing everything they are supposed to do…and with a joyful heart. Your post is a reminder that THEY are the reason I’ve been dragging myself out of bed when I’d rather take a weekend to myself. And, yes…karma has a way of working these things out… And…deep, cleansing breath in 3…2…1…

    Reply
    • Swim Bike Mom

      August 23, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      That’s right lady… we can only control US… you’re doing the right things. HUGS though. It’s hard to take the high road!!

      Reply
  • Wendy

    August 23, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    No matter what, the spirit with which you loaded that gift card is what matters, not the two possibly selfish or truly-in-need individuals used up the $. Thank you Marathet!

    Reply
  • Lisa

    August 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    The fact that you did something nice for others changed the day for a lot of people even if they didn’t go get a coffee. You added to the GOOD news which is worth more than a Venti Pikes Place Roast.

    Reply
  • Yuki

    August 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    I knew I wasn’t going to get the chance to have the Starbucks today, but just knowing that someone offered it meant a lot. It’s been quite a year, and just seeing little acts of kindness in the world like that are what get me through each day. Thanks for putting that out there!

    Reply
  • Jim McDermott

    August 23, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Meredith, I know I am not your target audience (63 YO male), but your blog inspired me so much. I wish I was 1/2 as generous as you are.

    Reply
  • Jennifer Royce

    August 24, 2017 at 9:30 am

    What a Sweet Giving Heart you have. You have inspired me this morning to do something nice for someone else. Thanks for the Pep Talk!

    Reply
  • Adjusted Reality

    August 30, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    I saw the Instagram post, and while I’m not really a Sbux person, the thought of your kindness made me smile. It’s a shame there’s no way to post a code like that with a 5$ per transaction limit or something…

    Reply
  • Queen Jeannine

    September 1, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    You’re awesome. I found a $20 bill in a parking lot and there wasn’t another person around. So I picked it up and donated it to a heart walk team at work. It didn’t feel right to spend it on myself. And it made the team captain so happy. I believe in karma. And karma will take care of all of the freeloaders in the world.

    Reply

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