Teachings from a Bag of Potato Chips

While on a brief respite from our everyday world, my partner and I spent a couple of afternoons sitting outside a café drinking coffee, talking, writing, and enjoying the scenery. On the second day, I sipped strong coffee while watching an interesting scene unfold.

After throwing away her trash and gathering her belongings, a young woman left her unopened bag of potato chips on the table. I do not know if this was intentional or unintentional, but it started a pattern that was obviously purposeful. People began depositing their unopened bags of potato chips! Soon the table was nearly covered. I began to wonder if this was a local ritual of some sort, or if everyone knew something about those potato chips that I didn’t know.

As the lunch crowd thinned, I noticed an older man with a knapsack on his shoulder eyeing the bags of chips from several feet away. Slowly, with very careful steps, he approached the table and sat down. He leaned back in the chair, in a relaxed, “devil may care” position, and looked to his left and right.

Systematically, over the next 15 minutes, the chips vanished. Every time I looked up from my writing, there were fewer bags on the table. My curious eyes managed to actually see the final two bags disappear into the knapsack. With his bounty captured, the gentleman got up and brushed himself off, looked again from left to right, and continued his stroll.

Because this moving scene has stayed with me over the last few days, I have concluded that it has valuable lessons in leadership to offer:

  • One individual, sharing his or her riches, initiates a call to action.
  • When each person makes even the smallest gesture, a group can start a movement that positively impact someones life.
  • Opportunities surround us.

And finally…

  • When an unexpected opportunity presents itself proceed cautiously, but proceed. :-)

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Corey McCarren

Awesome… I love seeing things like that. I saw in Philly once a policeman walk over to a woman digging through a garbage can on a cold day and give her his coffee. It might not seem like the biggest random act of kindness in the world, but the fact that someone considered to do that it awesome I think. I strongly believe in passing it forward, and I hope that officer had a good rest of the day!


Sweet story, I can’t help, I have been laughing, reading all along your story, sounds like a storyboard for a film scene, an ice breaker. Still a huge smile on my face………Thank you so much, you’ve made my day, Gisela