Tuesday, October 20, 2015

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: One Good Deed Deserves Another

To the crusty old man who dines alone.
You are a regular here. I see you at least once a week, having lunch by yourself and scowling the whole time. You used to sit with your wife years ago, may she rest in peace but now you dine alone.
You have caught my eye a few times, at first because I felt sad for you that your wife had passed on but mostly because I wonder why you are always so mean-looking and miserable, downright ornery at times. I understand that you are probably lonely, I'm sure it's hard growing old on your own after a lifetime of companionship.
Yesterday you surprised me.
A young family was sitting behind you, the parents were having a hard time controlling their young children to say the least. I agree, it was a little louder than usual and I thought you were going to make a stink about the commotion. I even braced myself for an uncomfortable situation as you motioned for the waitress. This is it I thought, the old man is going to blow his stack and as I prepped myself to stand up and defend the young family and their 'lively' children, the next words you spoke made me stop in my tracks.
Instead of complaining about the noise, you told the waitress that you wanted to take care of the family's bill. You said "they're as loud as hell but they remind me of my family when I still had one". I think the waitress was just as surprised as I was because she stood there for a few seconds, mouth slightly open with a look of confusion on her face but with a restaurant full of customers, she replaced the confusion with a smile and went off to bring you the bill.
(I'm sure you commenting 'hurry up now, I don't have all day' helped her along)
You left before the family was told that you had taken care of their bill and could thank you but I wished you had stayed to see their faces soften as they were told. The tension and stress that sometimes accompanies parenting young children seemed to melt away and be replaced by smiling appreciativeness, on their faces and my own.
You see, I was having a bit of a bad day as well and was not in the best of moods but just like the ripple effect you get when tossing a stone into the water, your act of kindness towards these strangers rippled outwards and softened me too. It eased my stress and gave me the push to continue my day with less of that perpetual burden on the shoulders. I didn't freak out later that afternoon when my son told me he had 'lost' his lunchbox AGAIN. I didn't frown when my daughter told me she had to be rushed to the mall after dinner for what can only be described as a life and death need for a new pair of fingerless gloves. I didn't lose it when my husband called to let me know that he had locked his keys in his car and needed a spare set to be brought to him pronto. And I didn't go into hysterics when I realized my polling centre had an early cut-off and I had just missed my chance to vote in our federal election last night because I had to run into the grocery store at the last minute for more bread before it closed. (We are ALWAYS out of bread!)
Thank you 'crusty old man' for the simple reminder of how a little kindness can turn someone around, directly and indirectly, and how each and every one of us is capable of sharing that kindness with friends and strangers.
Paying it forward today in your honour!

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AlwaysMe said...

Thank you for sharing that wonderful story and your reaction to his kindness. xo

Carolyn said...

Thank you. After a rough couple of weeks this brought both tears to my eyes and a smile to my face..such a beautiful testimony to kindness.