An open letter to the woman who bought my Starbucks

One new mom discovers how a small gesture can have a huge impact.

Gabrielle Johnson 5
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Photo: iStockphoto

To the woman who paid for my tea at Starbucks this morning after I’d forgotten my wallet at home: You are an absolute saint.

Not just for buying my Grande Earl Grey, which was a lovely gesture in and of itself. You had no idea, standing behind me in line as I searched frantically in my bag for something that wasn’t a diaper, wet wipe or crumpled receipt, trying not to jostle the baby strapped to my chest, that leaving my wallet behind was only one of the dumb, frustrating experiences I’d had so far today.

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You probably weren’t interested in hearing the minutiae of my silly morning, like how that excursion to our local Starbucks was the first time my five-month-old and I had left the house in three days, thanks to the unceasingly horrid polar vortex we’ve all been subjected to this winter, or how I’d been determined to make it to the 10:30 a.m. baby music class at the library.

I’m quite sure you didn’t want to hear about how I’d been puked on and pooped on several times already today, because apparently this is my life now, or how the act of trying to leave the house in -20 temperatures can take hours. You listened patiently as I blathered on about the art of wrangling a wriggly infant into a snowsuit (first, you must put on your own coat, scarf, hat and boots so that the poor kid doesn’t overheat once he’s trussed up, unable to move his arms, inside his personal down-filled Baby Gap prison) and how it turns me into a sweaty, dripping mess every time.

And it’s very likely you didn’t care that baby music class came and went in the long minutes it took me to buckle my son into our bougie-hippie carrier over umpteen puffy layers, and didn’t give a toss about whether or not I prefer the stroller, which I do, except when there’s a ton of snow like today, and what’s with all those people who don’t bother shovelling their sidewalks, don’t they know how hard it is to get out and about with a baby in the middle of winter? Don’t they know?

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You were just trying to be nice by paying for that cup of tea, but your act of kindness unleashed in me a maelstrom of words and emotions. Maybe it was due to the fact that I hadn’t spoken to anyone who wasn’t my husband or my baby in days, but once I opened my mouth to thank you, I couldn’t seem to shut up.

So here’s why I think you’re a saint. Because you didn’t roll your eyes at me, not once. You didn’t act bored, or make me feel like a crazy person—even though I must have come across as a little nutso—or ignore me the way everyone tacitly agrees to ignore everyone else at Starbucks. You let me rant and you smiled and then you asked about my baby. You made my day. From the bottom of my frazzled new-mom heart, thanks for being awesome.
Gabrielle Johnson is a freelance editor, writer and stylist who contributes regularly to Toronto Life, FASHION, Glow and Hello! magazines. She’s passionate about fashion and beauty but, as a new mother, has recently discovered the joys of sweatpants and ponytails.

5 comments on “An open letter to the woman who bought my Starbucks

  1. Such a great story! I’m having enough trouble surviving this polar vortex without having to care for an infant as well! I salute you. xo

  2. I loved reading this post and I can totally relate to everything you wrote. My fourth baby is 6 months old and I’ve barely left my house this winter. I think that woman was a special angel whom was there just for you at the right time. Every once in awhile humanity surprises me. :)

  3. you’re not alone. this post was beautiful. we are all waiting for the end of this polar vortex

  4. I love this post. :) I remember clearly those swaths of “house-bound” time and the lack of daily adult interaction, so I am inspired and touched to hear how one random act of kindness made your day better. Keep chuggin’ along, Mama – you’re doing a great job no matter how defeated you may feel some days. And always remember that you are a *rock star* in your baby’s eyes.

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