Penny walked into her local coffee shop. The café had just opened about five minutes ago and the line was already nearly out the door. Everyone was on their way to work or school so most of the tables were vacant. Penny loved coming at this time of the day because there was a certain buzz around the coffee shop. It was loud, but it was almost like white noise. It wasn’t difficult to concentrate. She loved the aroma of the café between the various flavors of coffees being made along with the freshly baked pastries.
She claimed her usual table by the window across from the main counter where people ordered their drinks. She took her laptop out of her bag as well as a notebook and a couple of pens. She had a lot to get done today. Her boyfriend had taken the day off from work so he was home and still sleeping. Penny wanted to have some peace and quiet to work on her writing without her boyfriend nagging her to hang out with him and go out and do something. She’d get herself a coffee, write a couple thousand words, and then head home with a pastry for him. Then they could spend the rest of the day together.
It was six o’clock in the morning and she knew he wasn’t going to be awake for another two or three hours anyway. They’d have the whole day ahead of themselves and she’d be able to get her writing time in.
Penny sat down opening her laptop and turning it on. She was thinking about getting a scone but decided to settle for just a coffee for the moment. Her stomach was starting to rumble with all the smells around her. Hearing other people say their orders and receive their drinks, Penny was beginning to wonder what kind of drink she wanted to get. Her boyfriend always got the same thing whenever they got coffee. He was pretty easy but Penny enjoyed a wide variety. It always took her a little while to figure out what she wanted to get. She never really ordered the same thing twice in one week. Of course, the holidays were upon her which meant the winter drinks were out. There were so many good flavors that she wasn’t sure what she wanted to get this morning.
An older gentleman moved out of line after ordering and paying for his drink. The cashier behind the counter puffed his cheeks out in a breath. Penny and him locked eyes and she they smiled and waved to each other right before the next customer got in their line of sight and began to order their own drink.
Penny looked to the door and noticed the line was now inside the café. She figured now was a good enough time as any to hop in line. She usually didn’t mind waiting for the line to die down. She was never in a rush to get her coffee and she knew she was going to be there for a while anyway that it didn’t matter if she got her coffee now or an hour into her writing time.
She was never one who needed a coffee to wake up. She was a natural early bird and only made herself a lot of coffee throughout the day because she thoroughly enjoyed the taste – and she loved holding onto a mug of coffee during the colder months because she was always cold.
The line steadily moved forward. Penny waited patiently. The smells were beginning to get to her. She had decided that she didn’t know what she wanted to get so she was going to let the man behind the counter surprise her. He knew her well enough since she was at the café just about every day. It would be interesting to see what flavor he would pick out for her.
By the time she made it to the counter, she greeted him with a smile. Though before she could give him her order – or allow him to make it for her – he dismissed her with a wave of his hand.
“You can move on.” He smirked.
“What?” she asked.
“Your drink has already been ordered and paid for.” He said.
Penny looked around the café and the people in line behind her were starting to look a little grumpy. She didn’t care though. She wasn’t even taking long. “What are you talking about?” she asked again.
She had heard of people paying it forward but she had never imagined that it would happen to her. Usually when someone paid for a drink it was then honored by that person paying for the next one and so on, right? Penny took out the money from her wallet anyway. This was the point of paying it forward, wasn’t it?
“Okay, then here’s a medium for the guy behind me.” She said and noticed a smile go across the gentleman’s face who stood in line behind her.
The cashier chuckled. “Thanks for paying it forward, but I think your boyfriend was just trying to surprise you.” He took the money and put it in the cash register. Then he waved her on again.
Penny looked over her shoulder and sure enough Oliver, her boyfriend, was sitting at her table. He was sipping a coffee and there was a festive cup beside her laptop.
Her jaw dropped and waved a goodbye to the cashier. “Oliver?” she said as she made it back to her table and sat down.
“I got you a peppermint, hope that’s okay. I don’t think you’ve gotten that kind this week.” Oliver grinned.
“Nope,” Penny smiled and took a sip. “Oh, this is so good. Thanks for this.”
“But what are you doing here? You were sleeping when I left.” Penny inquired.
“I pretended to be asleep. I wanted to surprise you. I want to spend the day together, but I know you want to get this done. I brought a book.” Oliver pointed to a book on the table.
Penny nodded. “Okay, fair enough. Well, I’m happy to have you here with me.”
“How’d you sneak into the café though? I didn’t see you at all. I was watching the line.” Penny said.
“You weren’t watching it close enough,” Oliver laughed. “I was right in front of you a couple of times and you looked right past me. You hopped in line while I waited for the drinks. Then I sat down and waited for you to get through the line.”
Penny pouted. “You made me wait in line all that time even though you had my drink ready and waiting for me?”
Oliver chuckled and took a sip of his own drink without a reply.