Oregonian religion reporter Melissa Binder stumbled onto ratings gold last week when a short and simple story about some fast food employees praying with a distraught woman got her more than 18,000 shares and 310 comments.
People still care about people.
Sometimes it’s the simplest stories that strike the deepest cord. Note: This story takes place in Vancouver, Wash. -- just across the state line from Oregon and about 15 miles north of Portland. It reads:
When Dutch Bros employees noticed a woman in line for coffee Saturday was visibly upset, they offered to talk.
Her husband had died just the night before, she told them. He was only 37.
Pierce Dunn, 19, gave her free coffee and asked if he could pray for her. She said that would help.
Dunn and two other employees leaned out the drive-thru window to hold her hand.
"That moment was absolutely incredible," said Dunn. "It was so emotional. She was crying. I shed a few tears. We've cried since as well. When something that real happens, it hits close to home."
Dunn, who identifies as a Christian, prayed the widow would feel supported and loved, that God would provide peace and help the family mourn.
A woman in line snapped a photo of the scene and posted it on Facebook -- garnering more than 128,000 likes and 35,700 shares as of Tuesday afternoon.
The article went on Facebook just after midnight on March 19. Included with Binder’s short article was a photo of three employees scrunched over each other and leaning out of a drive-in window. Their hands clasp the arm of a woman inside a car.
The anonymity of the woman; the racial mix of the employees, the humble look of the drive-in; what was there not to like?
The religion element in this news piece was of the most general kind, but the employees there are clearly shown praying, which isn't something I've ever seen a barista do. Add that to the fact that they stopped their sales for a few minutes while they ministered to the customer.
I heard about this story through a video posted on Facebook, but that went live days after Binder heard about the incident. She posted her story at 2:23 pm March 22, the same day as did the above Fox TV video. I don’t know the inside story as to how she heard of the incident but it’s obvious she moved fast to make some calls, then get it online.
Some of the other early online accounts just referred to Dutch Bros Coffee employees.
Binder got their names, which turns this into a story. Period.
Sometimes it's not the big stuff that grabs peoples' hearts. It's the little deeds of kindness, and if you're monitoring social media closely and see one of those stories happening close to you, jump on it. Which is what the Big O did.
Maybe it's click-bait material. Maybe it's common sense. Sometimes you just have to follow your gut on these things.