Weird things happen to me all the time. I went around the corner to my local coffee shop not long ago and ordered my usual. Flat white. Take-away.
“Would you like some organic bananas?” the friendly guy behind the counter said.
“Sure” was my raised eyebrow response.
He told me the oversupply story and how he didn’t want any to go to waste.
I gratefully took my organic bananas and waited for my morning fix while flicking through the newspaper.
“Here’s your coffee,” the friendly guy offered.
Thanking him, I grabbed my coffee, phone, keys and started to leave.
“Excuse me,” the friendly guy followed me. “You forgot your bananas.” He dangled the Lady Fingers out but they looked more like ladies legs doing the can-can. I didn’t have enough fingers to hold everything.
We looked at each other for a moment. “Oh, it’s OK.” I said.
“No, I’ll carry them for you.”
“Oh no, really it’s OK.” I insisted.
“No problem really,” he insisted.
I didn’t know what to say as he cradled the Lady Fingers.
“Thanks.” I looked at him warily, wondering what the hell was going on. Was he trying to crack on to me? No, couldn’t possibly. That last time someone did was in 1997. “Well, that’s service. I live around the corner. Aren’t you going to get into trouble?
“What’s your boss going to say?”
He smiled and scratched his head, “I am the boss.”
“Oh right.” That made everything alright then, I thought. “No wonder you’re always packed. You really do offer great service. I can’t think of many people who’d do that these days.”
And we got talking about his wife and baby on the way. About doing what you love and just going for it. It was his dream to open up his own cafe. He was the chef but was on the counter that day because his wife was going to have a baby at any moment.
We introduced ourselves at my front door. His name was David. He made my day, that friendly guy, the boss – the giver of bananas.
And then another strange thing happened to me. Good service was met with good old-fashioned manners!
I was in a rush at a shopping centre. I had an appointment and I didn’t want to be late. I overtook lolling shoppers, snaking in and out of aisles, people, sale signs and prams. Everyone seemed to be in slow motion. I live on the Sunshine Coast where everything is taken down a notch in terms of pace but… I had some place I had to be and I didn’t want to be late.
As I bull-dozed my way through people – there he was. I don’t know whether he was preparing to jump or whether it was a survival instinct but just before I was face to face with him he leaped out of my way – a big side-step that made me notice. Then he did the strangest thing. He tipped his hat. At me.
“Thank you” I said stopping abruptly because I’d never seen anything like it before in my life. Someone tipping their hat. At me.
“You’re most very welcome,” he articulated clearly.
I turned around and he did a kind of bow. I’ve had a few men do some strange things to me – but never tip their hat! Never bow! That got my attention. That slowed me down. That stopped me.
I looked at him, really looked at him and saw him for the beautiful man he was, grey and crinkled in experience – dashing in his vest and tweed jacket. He didn’t belong in a suburban shopping centre. He belonged in an episode of Downton Abbey.
I hesitated as to whether I should curtsey back to him. Instead, I smiled a big smile.
“Have a wonderful day,” said the hat tipper.
“You too.” I turned back to the busy world, slowed my pace and felt my face flush a little pink with his gentle reminder of good old-fashioned manners.