I work exclusively from home, but it sometimes gets lonely. When that happens, I wander down to my local coffeehouse to see if people still exist in the world. I’m not particularly looking for conversation, but I do enjoy hearing others talking. One of the first times I went, I noticed that many people were in bad moods. I finally found a way to change that, and I’m afraid it might be my undoing.

Working alone is great for concentration, but only the coffeehouse atmosphere offers a sense of companionship. I wanted to be surrounded by happy people, so I began giving the servers some extra money to pay for other customer orders anonymously. I found this changed many of their days into a happy time, and they would express their pleasure as they sat and drank their coffee. It has now become a routine for me.

The last few times I visited, I noticed a new customer who kept looking at me. He wouldn’t stay very long, but I could tell he planned to keep coming back. Approaching me today, he asked me how I kept lightening the mood of the place. I tried to act ignorant about his question, but he said he knew I was doing something to make people happier.

He mentioned that there wasn’t anyone around my table, so we had a private conversation. One of his friends had told him about the place, and he was curious. As a reporter, he said he was always looking for a good story. We made the deal that he could write a piece about what I was doing, but he couldn’t mention the name of the coffeehouse or my name. He agreed, so I told him about paying for a few coffees to make people happier. I now hope his piece will inspire others to do the same.