With all the bad news these days, isn’t it time to be reminded why we’re here?
Isn’t it time for a little kindness?
A few days ago, I did that thing that some people have talked about – I paid for the meal for the customer behind me in line at the fast food place.
It’s funny how things play out sometimes. I was scheduled to work with a client that afternoon, and in my office, my mind was on a million different things. But I finally came to a stopping point, gathered up my things, and headed across town. Just as I pulled up at my client’s office, I realized that I’d forgotten to eat lunch. So I got back in the car and ran over to Taco Bell.
I pulled into the drive-thru, ordered my favorite – just two crunchy beef tacos, no drink – and pulled up and paid. As the somewhat timid cashier was waiting for my order to be filled, she was talking on her headset to the guy behind me. I overheard her telling him the total for his order, and it was the same price as mine. I asked if he’d ordered two crunchy beef tacos and she confirmed that he had. I told her I wanted to pay for his, and she looked surprised, but took my money anyway. I was happy that the amount of his order got my attention, so that I could do something nice. After I paid, she stood with her back to me, with the window open, waiting for my order…
A few minutes later, she handed me my bag, and as always, I looked inside and saw two wrapped items, so I closed the bag and headed back to the office.
When I opened the bag, the items were not what I had ordered. Since I’m gluten free, I didn’t want to eat anything wrapped in tortillas, so I put them back in the bag and headed back to the restaurant. I probably could’ve eaten the contents of the tortilla, but I really had my mind set on my crunchy tacos. (For those wondering, I have asked, and their crunchy taco shells are made only from corn.)
Thinking it would be better to go inside to address the issue, as I pulled into a parking spot, I saw what I thought might be the big black boxy van that was behind me when I initially ordered my food. I wondered if the guy whose meal I paid for had an issue with his meal as well, and was coming back to correct it…
When I walked up to the counter, an older man was running the cash register. I showed him my receipt, then the contents of my bag, and simply explained that my order was wrong. Immediately he rolled his eyes, his shoulders sagged, and he said “EVERY order today has been wrong.” By now it was around 2:00, and I could imagine what his day had been like, so I really felt for him.
It seemed he was the manager, and clearly he felt defeated. He took my order back to the kitchen, came back and said they’d fix it for me. I asked “Bad day?” Without hesitation he said “Bad second. Second to second to second. Nothing has been right today. And I’m five weeks from retirement. Five weeks! If I can make it that long…”
My heart went out to this guy, who was completely exasperated.
When my tacos were laid in front of me, he said “Let me get you something else!” It didn’t feel like that was a company mandate, to keep a customer happy. It felt more like he just wanted to do the right thing and offer me something else for my trouble.
I told him I didn’t need anything else, that I was happy with getting my tacos. Then I reached across the counter, made sure he was looking at me, shook his hand, and simply said “Thank you. I have everything I need.”
As I walked away he had a smile on his face.
That may have been a fleeting moment of comfort for him, and I’m glad I could be the one to give it to him.
Sometimes things happen for a reason – like me forgetting to eat lunch before I left home, then the order getting mixed up, and having to go inside to talk to him.
We never know what people are going through, and we can take a moment to be kind.
To help remind me that we all have a purpose here, and that we all have the capacity for compassion, I’ve started collecting stories of kindness, and posting them here on my site.
Take a look. I hope they make you smile, too…