Do you believe that things sometimes happen for a reason?
I’m talking about the sequence of events that, though unconnected, seem to be connected.
Some people may call these sequences coincidence, synchronicity, a twist of fate, or Godwinks.
I do believe things often happen for a reason. Often, experiences seem to relate in unexpected ways. Yet sometimes I’m not mindful enough to notice them.
Just such a thing happened to me a few weeks ago. And I noticed.
There’s a little coffee shop near my home called More Than Coffee. It’s a free-standing building with a drive-up window and a walk-up window. Their menu board is topped by the motto, “Helping challenged people one cup at a time.”
This coffee shop has been in business for almost twelve years. It has trained nearly ninety individuals with special needs and helped them find employment. Many of those individuals have autism.
More Than Coffee is a special place.
When I pull up to the drive through window to order my decaf mocha, I sometimes find that it is already brewing. The people at the window recognize my van.
Whether my mocha has been started or not, I usually turn off my car while I wait at the window. I am always ready for the smiles and good will that meet me. Yes, sometimes the coffee takes a little longer to make than it might elsewhere, but it is definitely worth it.
Often, a young person approaches the window with a tray of muffins or cookies, as he or she learns to talk to customers.
Early one Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I pulled under the awning, and turned off my car. Once my coffee was ready, I tried unsuccessfully and repeatedly to restart my car. During the December St. Louis weather ranging from twenty to seventy, I had not had any indication that my battery was about to fail me. I sat at the window wondering why I had no warning that I needed a new battery.
I took inventory of the situation, trying to figure out how to get my van charged and out of the way of the car waiting behind me. I decided my best option was to walk to a nearby auto repair shop.
I squeezed out of the car in the narrow space between my vehicle and the shop and started to walk back to the other car to explain the situation and apologize. I was surprised when the driver rolled down the window and the family within called out a hello. We knew each other.
Thankfully, while the husband went up to the walk-up window, his wife drove me to the nearby auto shop so I could beg for a jump. How fortunate that they were there to give me a lift on this cold day.
It was early and only two employees were at work at the shop, one cheerful and helpful young man behind the counter and one mechanic. They were just opening and it wasn’t long until people came in behind me.
The man behind the counter told me he needed to wait for someone else to come in before he could leave his post, but that they would jump my van. He wanted to save me the cost of a tow truck when I was only the equivalent of a block away.
As I told him where my car was parked, I discovered that he was not even aware of this coffee shop within walking distance. How odd, I thought. I explained their work. He was interested in their mission.
He told me that he had previously worked at a restaurant which hired individuals with autism and shared some experiences. Hmm, I thought.
I anticipate that he will visit More Than Coffee in the future.
As a few other employees came in, a mechanic came out with a battery box jump starter and we walked together to the coffee shop. He was also unaware of the coffee shop mission. As I explained it, he perked up.
He waited a beat before he told me that his three-year-old son was diagnosed with autism a month earlier. I told him about my book. He shared stories about his son lining up toys and melting down when his brother took some out of the line.
The young man jumped my car and we drove back to the auto shop.
On an early, foggy Saturday morning my battery unexpectedly dies at a coffee shop window. I know the people in line behind me. Two people at the auto shop learn about More Than Coffee and both tell me a story about autism. One of those men is just beginning to learn about how his son’s autism will affect their family.
Luck, coincidence, synchronicity, a Godwink?
Whatever you call it, I noticed.
Before I turned over my van keys, I opened the tailgate and took a copy of my book “Conversations About Autism” out of the back. I signed it, and gave it to the young mechanic.
What else could I do?