Coffee, Tears, & Bullet Proof Vests

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I had a meeting this morning at a local coffee shop regarding a charity that I’m involved with. After a restless night sleep and a sad, tense morning with the latest news – another local law enforcement officer was murdered the day before – I wasn’t in the mood for coffee, so I skipped ordering and just got down to the task at hand without my morning java.


Near the end of the meeting, my spirits were feeling better. Feeling buoyed by philanthropy and community, my colleague and I were wrapping up our business and I was finally eager to order a coffee. Just then, I saw a uniformed officer come into the shop and stand in line to order. I quietly excused myself from the table and stood in line behind the officer.


As he reached forward with his credit card to pay for his coffee, I reached toward the barrista and indicated for him to put his card away… coffee was on me. When he turned around in surprise, I just smiled. He said an earnest thank you. I told him it was the least I could do…that my husband wears a uniform, too. But what I really wanted to do was wrap my arms around him in all of his heavy-vested bulk, and hug him deeply with every ounce of grateful heart that I have.


We exchanged another smile, and I ordered my coffee as the officer walked to the pick-up area. When I reached to pay with my card, the barista declined me.


“No, no…you don’t have to pay. We’ve got it. Both drinks are on us.” What?


I was dumbfounded.


“But that’s…but I was going to…”, as I glanced around for the officer. “No, really. That was really nice. We’re covering both of your drinks.”, she said with a lovely smile as her co-worker came over to smile right alongside her. I managed to close my mouth and pause for a second. I reached over the counter and embraced that sweet barista as well as I could over the muffin display and the tip jar, hoping that she knew just what that meant to me.


“Thank you.”, I whispered into her ear, with tears misting my eyes. “My husband is an officer. That means a lot. Thank you.”


I returned to my table to close up my discussion, and my colleague smiled. She, too, understood. No words were needed.


As I walked over to the pick-up counter, the officer was walking out. He stopped to say thank you again. I hugged him. And I hope that through the layers of vest and gear and belts and radios, that he couldn’t feel my shaking arms.


My grateful heart extends beyond my spouse, beyond my own front door. It reaches to every single unformed officer that joins him on the front lines every day, in every branch of service, and every single person who supports them.


Thank you, Woods Coffee, and your amazing employees for making my day. For giving me a few moments of joy in a morning fraught with grief. For supporting the joy that comes from simple people performing simple acts of kindness.


I am so grateful.

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