Paying it forward from now on

If this had happened to anyone else, it would have made a pretty good story for the local news media. As it is, this little corner of the Web will have to do.

MUSCATINE, Iowa — A Muscatine man walked into his favorite coffee shop this morning and bought a cup of joe.

This coffee drinker, who recently has found himself unemployed for the first time in his 45 years, nonetheless was suddenly very pleased. He has gone to Elly’s Tea & Coffee at 208 W. Second St.  almost every Saturday morning for at least the past four years. But today was special and memorable.

First, Kara Steinke made a guest appearance behind the counter. It was cool to see the former barista back at Muscatine’s best coffee shop, where she used to work on Saturdays.  She served up a large cup of dark roast and also sold this particular customer a cookie.

The man had no more than paid when owner Elly Lloyd poked her head out of the kitchen and said something along the lines of: “Your money is no good here.”

He protested, but she reached into a drawer and pulled out an envelope on which someone had written with a Sharpie: “Chris’s Coffee Fund.”

At least I think that’s what it said. I was a bit verklempt.

Elly wouldn’t say who gave her the $20 to keep me in coffee for a while — even though I think I know who it was. And she said someone else promised to refill the fund when I drain it.

I’m writing this to thank my anonymous friends — and because it is a pretty good story.

But please, if you read this, do not give Elly any more money to fuel my caffeine addiction. There are many people in Muscatine who need the money a lot more than I do. Give it to them.

I try to volunteer and do what I can to help others. But this I can guarantee: When I start drawing regular paychecks again, I’m going to pay this debt forward and help someone else the way my friends helped me today.

Following up: Junior Hernandez of Muscatine won a split decision Friday night in a nationally televised mixed-martial arts match.

Today’s quote: Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be. — Khalil Gibran, Lebanese poet (1883-1931)

7 thoughts on “Paying it forward from now on

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