Holiday Enlightenment at Dunkin’ Donuts


Originally posted on December 18, 2012

The holidays are a ridiculously busy time of year for just about everybody. For me, between end-of-year closings and other work projects, along with an endless list of holiday tasks, I’m usually trying to accomplish way too much at once. And that’s when I do stupid things.

The other day, I was in the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through to pick up my morning coffee, when I started thinking about the day ahead and how much I needed to do in so little time. As I reached for my briefcase to review a few documents, my foot slipped off the brake and I crashed into the car in front of me.

My attempt at multi-tasking in the three-minute drive-through caused a five-minute delay for me, the man whose car I hit and the people behind us. So I certainly learned my lesson there.

But what really blew me away wasn’t my foolishness. It was the reaction from the driver. After assessing his car and realizing there wasn’t any damage, he just shrugged and told me to have a nice day. Then he hopped back in his car.

I wanted to hug the guy. Whether his car was damaged or not, I fully expected him to criticize or lash out (and he would have been totally justified in doing so!), but his easy-going, relaxed attitude threw me for a complete loop.

The only way I could think to thank him in the moment was to tell the Dunkin’ Donuts woman on the speakerphone that I would pay for whatever he ordered.

As I thought about the incident afterwards, I suspected that the man’s reaction wasn’t in the spirit of holiday generosity. He’s probably a kind, patient and forgiving person in general. But his attitude reminded me just how important and meaningful those qualities are, and how much they impact other people.

So when I start to get stressed and distracted about everything I need to do, particularly in the days ahead, or when someone does something I’m not thrilled about, I’m going to channel that morning and regroup.

Meanwhile, when I was back in line at Dunkin’ Donuts the following day, I made sure not to smash into anyone. Then I paid for the person behind me. I’m not taking credit for this idea – I think I heard it from Oprah.  I just hope it made the stranger’s day a little nicer, in a small token of appreciation for the driver who brightened mine.

I hope your holiday season is filled with kindness, patience and generosity, too. Happy Holidays!


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