When I got to the window in the Starbucks drive-thru this morning, I exchanged conversation with the barista. It was quick, simple, and to the point. It went just how I would expect a typical drive-thru experience to go. Sure, I used manners, like the classic “thank you,” but I didn’t go out of my way to be exceptionally kind. So, I don’t know if it was simply the use of basic manners when someone is providing a service or the fact that I just wasn’t rude. Either way, the barista expressed sincere gratitude by stating “I appreciate you being kind. A lot of people are so harsh in the morning. That lady in front of you was so upset that I forgot the caramel drizzle on her Frappuccino.”

RELATED: Safe, Respected and Valued- A Call to Bring Kindness Back to the Table

Now, let’s stop right there.

I am not utilizing this as an opportunity to boast about my kindness–because CONFESSION: I am not always happy and I am not always kind. I have a long way to go. I have, however, been on the receiving end of a ruthless society in the service industry, just like many of you have.

So, I know first-hand that when someone is simply just kind, it goes a long way.

As soon as I was of age, I got a job in the service industry. If anyone were to ask my opinion (they aren’t, but if they were), I would tell them everyone should have to do it at least once in their lives. It’s a priceless lesson in humility. It was fundamental to who I am today, allow me to tell you why.

I learned how to gracefully deal with unpleasant people, and I learned empathy for others. The customer is not always right. In fact, the customer is sometimes ill-mannered, disrespectful, entitled, and just plain wrong. It can be incredibly frustrating to keep smiling and remain poised and respectful after someone is degrading. However, it helped me think on my feet and find rational solutions, rather than being impulsive with my reactions–even when someone deserves it. A life lesson we all can benefit from.

The world would be a much better place, am I right?

I’m now a bit older and a bit wiser, but I’m still putting to use the lessons I once learned in a busy dining room with tables 31, 32, 33, and 34 all requesting refills and Ranch at the same time–respond don’t react. Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone. Many people could be served thousands of dollars on a silver platter and will still tell you that the platter isn’t clean. Sweet friend, that is their problem, not yours. You will never make them happy and they will find something else to complain about long after they leave you. Thank them for their service and send them on their way.

RELATED: A Former Retail Worker’s Holiday Shopping Plea: Be Kind to the People Helping You This Week

All that to say, sometimes your cashier will charge you for something twice. Sometimes your server will get your order wrong. Sometimes the grocery store will leave something out of your curbside order, and sometimes, your Starbucks barista will forget the caramel drizzle on your Frappuccino.

‘Tis the season for grace, my friends.

So, the next time you frantically drive-thru to order your $5 coffee, headed to wherever it is you are going, humbly remind yourself that you are no better than the person taking your order. We are all running the same race here.

Kindness has always mattered . . . and it still does. 

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Keely Williams

My name is Keely Williams. I have been married to my husband Andrew for four years. We have a beautiful little girl named Avery. She is the fuel behind my passion for motherhood and my desire to leave this world much better than I found it. I love a good book, a bubble bath, and a trip to the mountains. 

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