Something Incredible Happened to Me Today
by John Sweeney – (Founder of Suspended Coffees)
Something incredible happened to me today, but I don’t know how to put it into words….I’ll try…
I was walking down a really busy city center street in Cork, Ireland, with a friend of mine. Recently, I was to give a talk about Suspended Coffees at an amazing event over in Guernsey, which is scheduled for later this week. They have a project there which aims to make it the best place to live in the world by 2020. Suspended Coffees is obviously something they believe in and so I needed to pick up a shirt to make me look a little presentable for my talk.
Suddenly, I saw what looked like a girl and that appeared to be homeless. I checked my pocket and found 2 Euros that I said I’d give to her. I do this as often as I can and make a point of saying thank you when I do.
This time it was different. The woman looked at me and I instantly got a shiver down my spine. She had a vein line, going through both her eyes that just jumped out at me…. Also, she had the prettiest little face and it wasn’t covered in make up, like most girls her age, it was covered in sadness. She looked unbelievably frail and she reminded me of my wife’s sister-in-law, who passed suddenly from cancer around this time last year.
I walked on and said to my friend, “did you see that girl, it was truly one of the saddest sights I’ve seen in a very long time.”
Following this I simply could not get her out of my head. A moment later I said to my friend that I have to go back and I asked him to stay away a little as I was going to ask her if she was Okay.
So, I approached, got down on my knees as she was sitting on cardboard and blankets, and I said to her, “sorry, me again, I really wanted to see was there anything I can do for you, would you like a cup of coffee or a sandwich perhaps?”
She looked me in the eye and said “I’d really love a chicken burger.”
“No problem”, I said and headed off to get one.
Luckily they had a special ‘buy one get one free’ offer, so I headed back and again asked my friend to keep his distance. This time I kind of sat on my legs and I gave them to her and said” there’s two in there.”
Even though her face was still steeped in sadness, she gave me a huge smile and said “thank you.”
I said “is there anything I can do? Can I call someone for you? Have you somewhere to stay?”
She said “I have my kids”
I’m not sure where they were, and I didn’t want to ask, so I said “the world can be shite”
I told her I too had kids, and I said “they don’t be long getting big and bold”
She laughed, pulled a serious face and said thank you. In my 30 years on this planet no one has ever said thank you to me in the way she did, never.
Again I asked “are you sure I can’t do anything for you?” she smiled again, her face full of sadness, and said “no, but thank you so much.”
Finally, I wished her well and said “I do see you, and I hope you have a wonderful day”, she smiled and said “you too.”
Since then I just haven’t been able to get her out of my head. She’s someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s sister perhaps. She’s a human being and she was almost invisible to the world. People were looking at me as if I was mad sitting next to her. She has children, 6, 4, 2 and every time she mentioned them she smiled. I didn’t give her anything special but I feel like I gave her respect, acknowledgement and perhaps a bit of hope.
Suspended Coffees isn’t about giving a cup of coffee to any one type of person, it’s about sharing a little kindness, but also offering a little hope to anyone who might need it. You know it, we’ve all been there.
I don’t share these stories often, and I certainly don’t do it for everyone to say “oh you’re great,” or “well done.” I share them because they matter. I share them because it’s real, and because no matter what anyone is going through in life, they need some bit of hope. Please be the hope for someone. It doesn’t have to be huge. I beg of you, spare a thought for someone else the next opportunity that you can.
I told 3 of my 4 children who are 11, 8, 7 about what happened, two of them cried (I won’t say who) and my other said “Daddy I’m so proud of you, Daddy you did the right thing, you’ve a cool job going around being nice to people.”
This is why I do what I do, it matters and it does make a difference. Take a breath and try it…
If anyone in Cork city sees this, and spots that woman over the next few days, please ask her is she OK? I really wish I could have done more, but something’s better than nothing, right?
John Sweeney, founder of the Suspended Coffees movement, first came up with the idea after reading a story about some friends at a coffee shop, discussing what a “suspended coffee” is. He knew he’d always wanted to make a difference in the world, and after reading this story, he knew in his heart that he’d found what he was looking for.
He was so deeply moved that he immediately went to work creating the Facebook page Suspended Coffees. On March 27, 2013, the Suspended Coffees movement was born. Soon after that, something amazing happened. People loved the page and all the heartwarming stories being shared daily, as well as the simple but amazing gesture of a suspended coffee. Even the fabulous George Takei was touched by their page, shared a post, and described them as being filled with inspiration.
John set himself a goal of having five cafes on board within the first six months. In its first year alone, Suspended Coffees had over 1400 supporting cafes, and over a quarter of a million Facebook followers.
The progress since has been astounding, and the amount of people who have given of their time freely, to raise awareness, is heartwarming. We aspire to help others who may be down on their luck, having a bad day, or who just need a friend to show them that there is good in the world. To see the effect this movement is having on people, please check out our Facebook page, have a read, and you’ll see inspiration and kindness everywhere.
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