But apparently, breakfast and dinner are not out of the question.
I met a friend for breakfast this morning at the diner near my house. As we were sitting down, in a table for two, the next door table for four suddenly had two more people (and a newborn) show up. They asked us to move down one so that they could add our table for two onto their four, thereby making space for their entire party.
We obliged, and I quipped playfully, "You're paying for breakfast then, right?" Tee hee, hardy-har, on with breakfast.
Which, it ends up, he did indeed, pay for it. I was floored. We asked the waitress if there was anyone at her tables with a comparable bill, so that we, too, could pay it forward, but there were none. (In her words: "Those women next to you might find it creepy"). So, we left her a big tip and mentally noted our debt to karma.
Spring forward to this evening. Pals Kim, Alexei and I were out at Arcadia Cafe, enjoying some neat blue-grass. The only table we could get was right behind the sound board. One of the organizer's approached us early in the evening with a large pitcher that said "Musician Tips".
"If you take this around the bar during each set," he said, "I'll buy you a round of drinks each time."
I'm on a Let's Meet New People kick, so this was perfect. I met some curmudgeony students in the back, who squeezed some turnips and handed over a few nickels (I facetiously suggested to one sour-faced girl that I'd take her hat in lieu of payment and she whined, "But I like my hat!"). I met a cute boy and girl from Indiana who lived in small town Wisconsin and had come to the "big city" for some music (she even had her fiddle!) I chatted up the banjo player of the next band (no dice) and bartered for a free demo CD with the manager of the first band. I debated Somali pirates with some Chilean dude who needed a shower, and refused an apple from a guy who got it from some Christians handing out free food up the street (he said that food from Christians "skeeved him out" and it wasn't organic anyway... (insert massive eyeroll here).
Anyway, for minimal effort and maximal fun, my friends and I managed to get two free rounds of drinks, two free shots and a basket of the best onion rings I've ever tasted. (...and an "inorganic" apple. )
I know I've been accused behind closed doors of having a Pollyanna-esque attitude toward the world, but even after all the poverty I've seen, I still firmly believe it's a fundamentally good place. People are good. Life, overall, is filled with tiny gifts. You only have to receive them.