Last Thursday I headed to Starbuck's on my lunch break for a much needed caffeine boost via an iced passion tea. The barista (or would it be baristo as the server was a male??) struck up a casual conversation with me regarding work, weekend plans and our shared disdain for the current heat wave in late September as I waited for my tea.
After about three or four minutes of friendly conversation, my drink was served. As I reached for a straw and prepared to exit, the barista made an offhand comment that took me by complete surprise.
"You're surprisingly nice for a pretty girl! Hope you have a great day and enjoy your tea!"
My mind went momentarily blank as I let his words set in. Surprisingly nice for a pretty girl?? What in the world does that mean? Wait - he thinks I'm pretty? Well, that's flattering. Never really considered myself to be one of the "pretty ones" - but does that mean that I can't be friendly as well? What the....
Knowing my hour long lunch break was almost up and not really knowing how to respond, I simply smiled and said, "Thanks - I think." Then I walked out the door.
But his comment has been bugging me ever since. Again, I've never considered myself to be pretty by any means. I have on the other hand, always prided myself in being a pleasant, "people person". I always smile at strangers or hold the door open for a stranger. I offer to help the elderly lady at the grocery store with her bags or let a person with only a few items go ahead of me at the grocery store. Not tooting my horn or saying I'm an amazing person (because believe - I'm not!) Just simply saying that I was raised to believe that showing kindness to strangers is a virtue and a great way of showing Christ's love to those around us.
But is it impossible to be both attractive and kind? Is this a common perception in society? If you're beautiful on the outside you must be ugly on the inside? Have we become so consumed with looking our best at all times that somehow common courtesy has gone right out the window? What in the world did that comment mean??
And still - I have no idea. I wish I could just take his comment as a complement and go about my merry way. But it raises so many troubling questions.
In today's society - what is valued more? Beauty or kindness? Sex appeal or compassion? The finest cars, clothes and homes or a desire to help those less fortunate than ourselves?
And if I'm really being honest - what do I value the most? If I could either be pretty or nice - but not both - which would I choose? I pray that my choice would always be nice as I pray that my heart will always reflect the Be Attitudes that Christ calls me to live by: gentleness, mercy, thirst for justice or righteousness, humbleness.
But again - what do I truly value?