munchkins-dunkin-donuts

“I’ve seen you somewhere before…”

It happens to all of us. That familiar face, but out of place.

Mike and I are out most nights with ministry commitments, so other than the occasional football game for Mike or PBS special for me, we have little time for TV.

But when it comes to those British historical dramas on Sunday nights? The series that become so popular their lead actresses spend years of their lives in corsets? They reel me right in, and some of them have lured Mike to perch on the couch and watch with me.

Downton Abby, of course. (We still haven’t recovered from Matthew’s glassy-eyed demise.) Call the Midwife with its joyous affirmation of life in London’s East End in the 50’s. The Crown, Poldark, Victoria – gotta love the Brits with their witty scripts and gorgeous locations.

Then a friend recommended an older series, Lark Rise to Candleford, and we stopped in for a visit or two only to find ourselves pointing at the screen.

Wait…isn’t Sir Timothy really Princess Margaret’s love interest from The Crown? And what’s Queenie doing out of her nurse’s uniform from Midwife? Hmm…the shady servants from Poldark just popped up as good-time Caroline and the Pratt sisters’ errant father. And, strangest of all, our beloved Mr. Bates from Downton has resurfaced as tenant farmer Timmons in Lark Rise. Oh, they’re messing with us now!

Takes you aback a bit, doesn’t it, when familiar faces pop up in places you don’t expect to see them?

So you’ll understand my feelings one Saturday morning a few weeks ago when I witnessed three girls from my church lurking in the local Dollar Store. They looked guilty, like they were taking something. Funny thing is, they were there to leave something instead: dollar bills taped to random products with a note saying, “This one’s on me.”

They purchased dollar vases, paying for their $4 purchase with a $10 bill and telling the startled clerk to keep the change for herself.

They stopped at Aldi’s and selected flowers while striking up a conversation with the single woman behind them in line, and then paying for her groceries. (“Aren’t you the lucky one today?” exclaimed the clerk.)

They swung through Dunkin Donuts for two big boxes of munchkins which they never touched. Instead they paid for the order of the car behind, telling the associate at the window to give the driver a hand-lettered card rather than her receipt. (“Just wanted to bless you today!”)

They paid a social call to a local assisted living facility, dropping off those vases, now filled with roses, to widows from our church.

And those dozens of donut holes? “I know where the police station is,” said one, laughing. “Let’s go there!”

How amazing to see these same three young women popping up all over town on that wintry Saturday morning.

The world casts them in stereotypical molds. The bored teenager, consumed with social media.

The self-absorbed millennial whose myopia renders older adults invisible.

The angsty adolescent obsessing over the latest school drama.

But do you know what I saw when I filled the driver’s seat watching them in their new roles that morning?

Not a single cell phone came out to Instagram their intentional acts of kindness.

Not a single eye left those of the elderly women in the retirement home who clutched their hands in gratitude.

Not one word of high school gossip was exchanged as the teens ping-ponged around town dropping off dollars and donuts.

Sometimes you see people in new roles that you like even better than the ones they played before.

It doesn’t get much better than that.