Recently a fan asked me to contribute a story for a Kitchen Holiday special he was doing. It took me a while since most of my Holiday tales are tragic/traumatic and not quite “funny” or “uplifting” yet one came to mind.
It was in rural Kentucky.
I clearly remember it was on the winter solstice, the longest, coldest, darkest night of the year. I had just gotten home from a very busy night at an upscale Italian joint in Lexington and was looking forward to having a smoke and shutting down for the night. As I walked up, my roommate and I heard our upstairs neighbor crying so we went to go find out what was the problem.
Grandpa was on his deathbed.
The family had just gotten the call and were all heading to the hospital en mass to say their goodbyes. Without hesitation my roomie and I looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking and what we had to do. He grabbed his keys and told me to text me if I could think of anything else and he’d be back in a few. I went downstairs and turned on the oven while starting a pot of coffee.
King is an interesting guy.
I should mention that, only days prior to this, I decided to dye my long hair bright blue despite the fact that I was already painfully out of place. My roommate King on the other hand, was the Yin to my Yang and as straight laced as they come. A retired Marine, I’d met him at a catering gig and we’d become friends due to a mutual sense of honor that outweighed our superficial differences. It was times like this where we synced up and the world was a slightly better place as a result.
Cinnamon buns were on sale.
So we got something like 4 for $5 and all of them went in the oven. 30 minutes later, King came back with two air pots for the coffee, creamer, sugar, paper cups, and even Tupperware for the cinnamon buns. Less than an hour after we’d gotten the news we were on the way to the hospital.
It was bleak
I don’t know it was just the vibe or if the lights had been dimmed because it was so late but the scene was just dark and tragic. Even if you didn’t know what you were walking up on, you could feel the pain and loss hanging in the air. By the time we showed up there was already a small crowd in the hall with people coming and going out of his room. Everyone was looking at the floor and we felt awkward even being there, despite our intentions of good will. We found our neighbor who was talking to her mom and put the coffee and cinnamon buns on the table.
It made an impact.
Grandpa still died a few hours later but as soon as we set the stuff down and told the family why we were there, the mood shifted just by a fraction yet it was better than nothing. In their darkest time, cinnamon buns and fresh coffee didn’t fix it but it showed that someone cared, that there was hope and not all was totally lost.
Be the fucking light.
I’m not writing this to stroke my own ego or make myself sound cool. I’m writing this in the hope that it will inspire you to get off your ass and make some cinnamon buns so to speak. I’m hoping that this can help light a fire under your ass to go and actively do something to make this world a better place, even if it’s for just one person. A small gesture of kindness, especially in the times we’re living in now, can have a much bigger impact than you can see. Stop waiting for others to act, stop making excuses and do something cool for someone.
Karma comes back.
A few days later and it’s Christmas Eve. As I said, rural Kentucky, I don’t know anyone and I am out of weed which sucks at any time but more so when I have a few days off. I’m doing my last wipedown on the line and my dishwasher, a heavy-set older black man who’d never spoken to me prior, comes up and says “Hey brother, you smoke right?” to which I in shock replied, “ Uhh, yeah why?”. Before I could say anything else, the dude hands me a quarter of the best weed I’d seen in months. I didn’t have any cash and was obviously confused so he just laughed and told me “I pulled you on the secret Santa and didn’t know what else to get you.”
Go do something cool for someone.