I have come to know through a great number of firsthand experiences, that acknowledgment is one of the most powerful agents of positive change we have at our disposal.
By its very definition, acknowledgment affirms the existence of “something." And in the broadest sense, that “something” can be a person, place or thing. More specifically, what typically needs to be acknowledged are the people, circumstances, and conditions that exist in our world.
Below is a letter that I sent to the corporate offices at Dutch Brothers, along with the response they sent me. One person made a big difference in my life on that day, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to acknowledge that.
Dear Dutch Brothers,
I was feeling depressed and had been, not only for the better part of the last month, but on and off for most of my adult life. I had just left my doctor’s office, and I dipped into to my self-care tool bag, searching for that something that might lift my mood, even a little.
The thought of a chai tea latte popped into my head, and as I drove down the road I came upon a Dutch Brothers location. I had never been to Dutch Brothers, having only heard of its Starbucks competitor, and so I pulled into line.
I made my way to the front and was greeted by what can only be described as human sunshine. Friendly, kind, warm, and happy, I was asked first how I was, and then what I’d like to drink.
Interesting how the priorities were so well aligned.
I placed my order, paid, and was then asked if I had a drink card. I shared I had no such card, and delighted by my response, my new friend enthusiastically gave me my first, already stamped not once, but three times. I was then told that once the card was full I could redeem it for anything on the menu.
I went to pull forward, thinking I was to pick up my drink on the other side of the kiosk, but I was told to stay put; told in that way that someone who really wants you to stick around says it. With more time, I then shared I had never been to a Dutch Brothers before.
You would have thought I was the President of the United States.
First, I was told to give the drink card back, and with a rapid succession of stamps, I was handed back a now completely filled card. Then my money was refunded, and finally, I was told in no uncertain terms how much my business was appreciated and how happy she was that I came by.
My chai tea was now ready, and it was handed to me with warmth and a sincerity that left me in a feeling, happy. In less than five minutes I had been acknowledged, appreciated, and cared for by a kind and loving soul who obviously loves her job, the company she works for, and the people she serves.
When I left my doctor’s office I was hoping I could find a way to feel just a little better. Anything that might lift my spirit. Anything that might have me feel hopeful and free of the grip of depression.
I went to a business I had never patronized before, and I had, what I like to call "an experience of matter." Something similar to what William James talked about when he declared, "the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." In my words, we are each looking for that experience of matter. An encounter, an exchange, a circumstance that validates our very existence. It doesn’t need to be grand in nature, just sincere. A little goes a long way.
I came looking for a drink, and what I got was something that can’t be taught, only practiced. My friend used her kindness both as a greeting and gift, and on this day, I needed that very much.
There is a saying that implores each of us to, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." For me, that is true. Depression is a formidable foe, and there are days I feel like the windshield, and others where I feel like the bug, but after this encounter, I felt like me, and that was good.
A chai tea, a connection with a loving soul, and an experience of matter. Now that’s brotherly love.
Thank you Dutch Brothers,