Monday, June 23, 2014

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS & COINCIDENCE


A few months ago... I had a taxing day. The hubby was out of town and the younger daughter was texting me from Alaska, non-stop,  complaining about her lot in life... Meanwhile, I was left to fend for myself on the home front.  My hubby gets a free meal and complimentary drinks on the house... when he's on the road for business. That makes me a tad bit jealous and this particular night I wanted to be pampered too.  I needed to sit somewhere and just relax. So... I went out to eat at a nicer place than usual, knowing he'd probably be mad at me for doing it. But figuring... sometimes a girl has to do, what a girl has to do.  I scoured the menu for something good to eat, finally settling for a chicken and crabmeat dish that wasn't particularly cheap. Then... I ordered a Bellini Tea. I passed the time, texting my daughter. Usually I'm quite observant. But... due to where my table was located... I didn't have a view of the room I was in... to see the people that surrounded me. The meal was served. I ate it. I wasn't particularly impressed. So... I  ordered dessert. A piece of white chocolate, raspberry cheesecake.  When the waitress brought it to the table I nearly swooned. It looked delicious, and I can attest to the fact, every single bite was heavenly. I sat there a little while longer enjoying the afterglow of this delight. I knew that I had quite a large bill to pay, for the luxury of this meal, and waited patiently for the waitress to bring my tab... thinking perhaps, I should have gone somewhere else to eat. When she approached the table she was smiling. I smiled back. Then... it all went south on my part. She looked at me and said, "Your check has been picked up by a very nice person. I can't tell you who it is. They prefer to remain anonymous. But... they want you to have a very nice day." Her words didn't translate. I was in shock. I was gobsmacked. I thought she was kidding. Not one word came out of my mouth, not even a thank-you. I'm ashamed to say... I literally sat there just staring at her, dumbfounded. She said, "You are free to leave anytime." And walked away. I fumbled with the cash in my hand trying to decide what to do. My first instinct was to put the money I owed on the table. But... I didn't. Instead, I left the waitress a tip, only. I stood up... looked around the room, then seeing nobody looking back... I left, trembling. I sat in my car for the next ten minutes and began to cry. Who would do such a thing? And why pick me? What did they want? I didn't deserve this kind of gesture. For days afterwards it haunted me, and I was in a quandary about it. I know I should have felt touched, and lucky. But I didn't. I felt like a victim. I felt guilty. I had the money to pay. I wasn't a charity case. Someone less fortunate should have been the recipient. Not the reaction the person paying for my meal probably expected me to have, right? They wanted to make me happy and I wasn't. Do you think it was a strange reaction?? In retrospect it probably was, wasn't it? And I still don't know why I responded that way. But I did. Now let's fast forward a couple weeks later. Let me preface this by saying... my parents and I live... five hundred miles apart. They are on a fixed income. My dad had a stroke last autumn, and now uses a walker to help him stand and get around. So, my mom and him, usually don't like to venture too far from home. But... one day they were restless and decided to drive out of town for dinner. They went to a nice buffet style restaurant. They had a delicious meal, a nice conversation and were friendly, smiling at the people around them.  One man in particular caught my mom's eye. He stopped at their table to say goodbye, even though my parents didn't know him. He told them to have a nice day. My mom said, "Thank you. You have a nice day." When it came time for my folks to settle the bill, the waitress came over to the table and said, "Your check has been picked up by a very nice person. I can't tell you who it is. They prefer to remain anonymous." I KID YOU NOT. The same deed. The same words I had heard. Talk about a coincidence. WHAT are the odds of that happening in two different states... halfway across the country... within a month's time??? Needless to say, my parents were also surprised by the nice gesture, but they managed to say, "Thank You" to the waitress. And thought that... perhaps the gentleman that said hello to them... was their benefactor. Perhaps he was. I will never know who treated me. I still regret not saying thank you, at the time.  What's the old saying, "You never look a gift horse in the mouth." However, since then, I have learned to be extremely grateful for what happened to me, that day. With my husband about to lose his job... and us to be on a limited income, with just Social Security in the next few months... I realize the significance of the selfless act this stranger performed. And I've learned to not feel so guilty about it. It was the gesture, not the monetary value of the deed, however, that's important. I should have enjoyed the moment, reveled in it and not fretted so much over it. A kind stranger, made a new memory for me. One, I will always treasure for the lessons it taught me. In the days that followed these experiences... my mom and I have done a number of different things, in our own way,... to PAY IT FORWARD to others, hoping to bring a smile to someone else's face.  I wanted to share this story with you and say that RANDOM ACTS of KINDNESS, big or small, can change a person's life. Find a way in your heart, to PASS it ON. PAY IT FORWARD.


11 comments:

Jon said...

What a truly incredible story! Thanks for sharing it - this really made my day and renewed my waning faith in humanity.

Incidentally, my initial reaction would have been the same as yours. I'm sure I would have felt guilty and like a victim. Perhaps this is because genuine kindness is so rare that we never expect it - - and when it happens we're too shocked to appreciate it.

Look at the bright side: a cherished memory was created.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

what a great story! it's good that the 'pay it forward' is resonating with so many people!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

What a great thing to have happen to you and your folks. My oldest son and his family were out for dinner one night and had that happened to them too. He left the waitress a very nice tip due to the free dinner. Nice to pay it forward when we can, however we can.

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

Wow! What a story.

Lucy said...

That is so special. To think that a stranger would want to pay for your meal and then to have it happen to your parents, There are good, kind people in this world, Sometimes we just forget those things. I am happy that you finally realized that you had nothing to be so upset about.

betty said...

This was heart warming to read in that there are still kind people out there wanting to pay it forward and be generous. I'm sure you will continue to do so as you can too. I have heard of people doing something similar at fast food restaurants where they will pay for the next person in the drive through lane.

betty

Cheryl @ TFD said...

That is a wonderful story and one I also think of as a God Wink. You were in need of a bit of cheering up and the kind stranger must have been led to do a random act of kindness for you. It's amazing that it happened to your parents also within the same month! I just knew that I'd read on about you (and your mom) paying it forward! Good for you!

Mevely317 said...

This really touched me! Like Jon wrote, it's restored some of my faith in humankind.

Putting myself in your shoes, I think I'd have felt mighty uncomfortable, as well ... being an unaccompanied female and all. Dang, I wish I weren't so suspicious.

At any rate! ... I applaud you for taking the initiative to treat yourself to a nice night on the town.

Red Rose Alley said...

Oh Taryterre, this is the most extraordinary story.....and I loved it! Coincidence, maybe, but I don't think so in this case. People come into our lives just when we need them the most. I have a few stories of my own, but I want to thank you for sharing this one. I think you didn't say anything because you were just in shock at the time. How wonderful that the same thing happened one night to your mom. A kind word or a gesture given at just the right time is a blessing.

love,
~Sheri

Paula said...

How did I miss this nice story (entry). This happened to my daughter and her husband a few years ago. Sometime we forget there are a lot of nice people left in the world. We've had a few people we know pay for our meal and John pays for someone he knows sometime sitting across the room.

Pam Kessler said...

That is really cool. I'm not sure how I would have responded to that generous of a gift, so I don't think it's weird that you were upset at first. I had someone pay for my meal in the drivethru at McDonald's one day and that was just a couple of bucks and I was a little peeved at first. I thought now I have to pay for the person behind me (with two adults and two kids in the car)? But, I felt different after I thought about it :)