Gifts That Keep On Giving

Some of you, dear readers, may recall a time quite a few years ago when I read the book 29 Gifts and was prompted to attempt the challenge: Give one gift a day for 29 days.
Lest you think this might break your budget, let me give you a few guidelines:
  • The gifts don’t have to cost a thing. You can gift a compliment. A second chance. A smile. A thank you. The benefit of the doubt.
  • The gifts have to be intentional. You can’t sit in your bed tonight, think back over your day, and say, “Oh yes! That! I’ll count that!” Nope. But you can be aware enough to give when an opportunity presents itself. And such was the case tonight.

I got home at 4:30 after a successful school field trip. (“Success,” in this case, is defined as a trip with eleven thirteen-year-olds returning to school with the only injury being one skinned knee.) I’m working hard on trying to not think too much about school after the school day is over. I’ve read this is next to impossible for a teacher, but I’m up for a challenge. So how to get myself into a different mindset? Sometimes I just head out onto the screened-in porch and dive into a good book. Sometimes accompanied by a glass of wine. Other times, I do this same thing, but out in public. Tonight was such a night.

I tried to get Michael to join me, but his hermit tendencies don’t always make this possible.

So I put a book and my journal in my bag, and decided to take myself out. And then I remembered the coupon. Not just any coupon: this one’s a good one. The kind where you don’t have to spend any money to use it. Ten dollars off. Whether your bill is ten dollars, or fifty dollars. So off I went.

Michael and I were given the coupon by the owner of the bar when we visited not long after they opened. I’d been holding onto it for six months, thinking I should use it for the two of us. But then I recalled my friend Lynne who says, “Don’t should on yourself.”

I will confess: walking into a bar alone still unsettles me just a little. I sat in the car for a few minutes getting up my nerve, and I’m glad I did. I sat on the short end of the L-shaped bar. There were about 10 people in the joint, and the bartender was friendly. I ordered a delicious red blend wine. And then some soppressata and Parmesan. All the while reading my book but really eavesdropping on other people’s conversations.

I could see the couple a few seats around the corner from me was taking advantage of the Wednesday night half-price wine bottle special. Two large plates of oysters came out for them, followed by a charcuterie plate. Another couple arrived and sat a few seats down from the oyster-eating folk. This new couple let on that they were celebrating an anniversary. They were married on 10/10/10. An easy one for the husband to remember.

And that’s when I realized: that coupon I had? It wasn’t for me.

So I showed the bartender my coupon, and asked him to give it to the anniversary couple. He walked down the bar and told them about it. They gave me a smile and a wave and a thank you. And the bartender said to me, “I’m still going to give you ten dollars off, too.” See, this is the thing about giving: it comes back to you. Abundantly.

After the anniversary couple left (with more than a few dinner recommendations from us locals), I got my check. And got to talking to the oyster couple. About the book I was reading. The local bear population. Other wildlife. Teaching. “TMI,” Michael would say. He says I give entirely too much information to people I talk to. Good thing he wasn’t there
And while we were talking? The bartender came back. “Forgot to take your ten dollars off,” he said, giving me a new check. And another brand new ten dollar off coupon. Which I can promise you will not sit in my wallet for six months.
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