The other day, heading into Panera's for a semi-quiet respite after a noisy mall-walk, a young woman who was carrying a zippered black-leather portfolio was striding ahead of me.
I sat at a small table by the window with a steaming cup of English Breakfast tea. The young-woman-with-portfolio approached a shabby man who was sitting, alone, at the table in front of mine. She handed him a small bag. He said thank you. Then she said, "'I'll get you some coffee," and quickly turned away.
The shabby man said, "Wait a minute." She stopped. "You don't know me," he said. "You don't know what I want or how I like my coffee. I know you mean well, but please!"
The young woman put the empty cup on his table, backed up a few steps, and strode away.
I've seen this man before. He often stands near the door and makes loud, random comments. My storytelling mind says that the portfolio-carrying-woman meant to perform a random act of kindness by buying food and coffee for him, but it had unexpected consequences. How could it not? She didn't know what he wanted. Maybe she didn't ask. Maybe his answer was as random as his usual utterances.
And maybe he prefers tea.