By Michelle Fish

I don’t know where you are, but in Michigan, we are in week six of lock down. To quote a friend of mine, time has become slippery.  Some things, like hugging people and sitting at a bar in a crowded restaurant belong to a distant past. Almost as far away from me as high school. On that note, I have now had my first ZOOM high school reunion. Class of 1981 represent!

But weirdly, the day to day gets away from me. For instance, I wake up in the morning with seven or eight things I want to do.  Some of them include chores… laundry, house cleaning, etc. Some of them are about me. Long walks, yoga, reading. Very rarely do I get to the end of the day and find that have had time for any of it, let alone most of it, let alone all of it.

I am very aware that this time slippage isn’t true for everyone.

Mike McFall and Bob Fish Co CEOs of BIGGBY Coffee

My husband, for instance, is working as hard or harder than he ever has, but it’s in a whole new context. He definitely knows his schedule minute to minute through the very long day. ZOOM meetings with his partner, Mike McFall (above), their leadership team, and all of the BIGGBY Owner/Operators, working to keep everyone afloat and all of the staff at the stores and the customers safe. But even he doesn’t always know what day it is.

Ain’t it funny how time slips away. And this weird time calculus is going to be with us for a while, yet. So how do we get through it with grace?

Look for the Helpers

I’m in that generation that both had Mr. Rogers Neighborhood on PBS growing up, and then shared him with our child. Scary, overwhelming things in society were one of the things he wanted to help children find words for. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

And so, in the spirit of Mr. Rogers, I wanted to share with you some stories that I find inspiring and that bring peace. So here they are, in the words of the people that shared them with BIGGBY Nation… small acts of generosity that remind us that we are all connected, one species trying to find our way through kindness to each other.

From Brie Roper

Brie is a home office employee who was furloughed for a while, and went to back to work as a Barista to help out an Owner/Operator.

“Essential Kindness.

Today a woman visited the drive thru. She was worried because she had a very large order and she wanted to make sure she got it correct. She apologized because of how long it was going to take. She proceeded to order 15 or so specialty drinks. She was going to deliver them to the staff at an assisted living facility.

There was another woman waiting for her drink at the window while this was going on. When I opened the window to complete her transaction, I apologized for the wait and told her about the big order right behind her.

She said, “the lady behind me is getting drinks for the staff at an assisted living facility?” I said, “Yeah, isn’t that awesome!?” Then she handed me her credit card again and said, “Let her know it’s taken care of.”

I’ll admit… I got very teary eyed.The woman left and the other woman pulled ahead. She was still flustered about the size of the order and apologized again. I told her I had some good news for her, that the order was already paid for by the woman who was in front of her.

Tears filled her eyes. “The whole thing?” Yep. The whole thing. $70 worth of BIGGBY for the staff of an assisted living facility.

Coffee is essential. Kindness is essential.”

From Angela Hunt

Angela is a Manager at West Lansing BIGGBY, and has a follow-on to Brie’s story above.

“I know you know of Brie’s story that happened at West Lansing BIGGBY. But there’s an add on to that story.

After she posted, I shared the story to the West Lansing BIGGBY store’s Facebook page. I feel silly, it actually took me like 3 days before it occurred to me that that’s something I should share that’s about that store and with that stores customers!

Anyway, my Aunt Jan read the post from the store’s page. She instantly bawled, well, because we all did when we read it.

And then she called me. She said the post inspired her and she wanted to help. She asked that I add $100 onto a BIGGBY card to leave it at the store to be used for health care workers, EMTs, assisted living, docs, nurses, or any kind of helping with bulk orders.

We’ve labeled it the ‘health care worker, pay it forward, act of kindness’ card. What’s awesome is when it was used for a nurse who came thru the drive thru to get drinks for her fellow nurses, the nurse insisted on paying something so she paid for the person behind her and that pay it forward carried on to 10 cars. And the last guy who ended it (because he was the last car) stuck his $20 in the tip jar. Bonus for my baristas!

So then around Easter time, my Aunt Jan shares this with My Aunt Terese. She’s just as moved and instantly asks how much to add to it. She ends up sending me a check for $50 to add to the card.

I shared with a customer what we had going on because she was the car behind a car getting an order for her crew before heading back to the fire station and she wanted to put $10 on that card.

I’m sure there’s a lot more stories like this other baristas have experienced during this time, but these are the ones I’ve been there for. It’s a beautiful thing we’ve got going on. All starting from one customers generosity to help and Brie’s beautiful words to share the story.

As of today we have over $250 added and spend on that card. I couldn’t be more proud of the West Lansing BIGGBYs customers and this community.”

A BIGGBY Coffee Customer

From Gary Dible

Gary is a BIGGBY Owner/Operator in Bowling Green, Ohio.

“I wanted to do my part in sharing a good community-related story centered in Bowling Green, Ohio.  A couple of weeks ago I had a community member (and long-time BIGGBY fanatic) chat with me during one of his visits to my store. He pulled me aside and said he & his wife wanted to do something for a local business who’s been impacted by COVID-19, and also help the community. They requested to remain anonymous and chose to pay for all the drinks for an entire day. Well, that day was today, and it was a massive success. The look on so many faces today reminded me of when my children would come down the stairs on Christmas morning to see all the presents under the tree.

Ironically that same look I witnessed countless times when customers were told their drink was free just happened to occur during steady snowfall that made it feel like Christmas again. The kindness and generosity by one local couple lifted the spirits of so many. My staff and I are beyond appreciative for what they’ve done for our store, but I think what impresses me most is that they wished to remain anonymous. Being humble in a world that is so “me-oriented” tells me the true character of these two outstanding individuals.

On a side-note, we had one customer thank us for keeping our store open. She said coming into Biggby provided her the only “normalcy” these days. That’s a pretty powerful compliment for my entire staff.”

From Bernie Fraser

The Fraser Brothers are our partner in tea. They are a Michigan-based tea company sourcing the finest organic tea from around the world. Bernie shared with us what they’re doing in this time of Covid-19.

Fraser Brother Tea Donation

“During this time of uncertainty and crisis, people come together to support one another. Fraser Tea recognizes that COVID-19 is a test of our collective strength. As millions are on lockdown and businesses are closing, unemployment is spiking. Feeding the kids, making the rent, and keeping the lights on is tougher for many of us than ever before.

Fraser Tea has partnered with BIGGBY Coffee in donating $25,000 worth of tea to support first responders.”

Fraser tea also donated over 8000 servings of tea To the Detroit Rescue Mission and Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

From Killoud Dabaja

Killoud is a BIGGBY Owner/Operator in Dearborn, Michigan.

“Friends, I am looking for someone and I need your help!

During the BIGGBY morning rush, an incredibly kind, and generous Uber driver picked up his order, then came back to pay for the military personnel that were waiting in line as well. His gesture prompted one of the customers to pay it forward as well. It was a moving and organic reminder of our shared struggle and humanity. In these trying times it’s easy to forget to pay it forward, he didn’t.

I would like to keep the good going, so if any of you have an idea where I could find him, please send me a message.

He is an Arab American man named Rachad, in his 50s, and he works with Uber. Thanks for your help.”

And there are countless more stories.  So Mr. Rogers was right… look for the helpers. And if you happen to know how Killoud could track down that very generous Uber driver, please drop us a line at onebiggisland@BIGGBY.com.