I’ve heard about random acts of kindness. I know they exist, but I’ve never experienced one nor seen one with my own eyes. I’ve heard reports and read Facebook posts. That’s the closest I’ve been…until last week.
My daughter had a dentist appointment, so I scheduled my doctor’s appointment for the same time. I figured my hubby could drop me off and go to the dentist with her. Somehow, we neglected to account for our youngest in this equation, both assuming she would go with him. It wasn’t until we arrived at my appointment that we realized he probably couldn’t sit with our oldest and watch our youngest. I decided to take her with me. I arrived at my appointment 30 minutes early and for the first time during my pregnancy, my doctor not only saw me on time, but early. We were out of my appointment by my scheduled time, meaning my oldest daughter’s appointment hadn’t even started. Lucky for my 2-year-old and I, my doctor is located in a walking, commercial and residential neighborhood.
We headed down the street and my daughter tried to drag me into every bar and swanky, high-priced restaurant we passed. She refused to hold my hand, which totally freaked me out because at this stage in my pregnancy, I simply couldn’t chase her if she had made a dash. Every time we crossed the street, I was forced to carry a struggling toddler yelling “Put me down”. I was hot and famished (we all decided to wait to eat since my oldest couldn’t eat before her appointment). I was overjoyed when I spotted a diner. I thought I’d finally found a place where we could order something she would actually eat and where her “terrible two” behavior wouldn’t disturb anyone. I was wrong.
It was sweltering in the restaurant, full of adults on their lunch breaks, and dead…silent. The moment we walked in and my daughter made a squealing mad dash for her chosen seat, I could see the look of dread on their faces. I ordered for her first in hopes of occupying her as soon as possible. She tugged and pulled at the menu and fussed every time I took it away to find something for myself. Then the “I can do it” started. Her chair wasn’t close enough to the table. Her chair was too close to the table. She couldn’t get her straw in her milk. All of my assistance offered was met with arm flailing and “I can do it.”
When her pancakes arrived she finally calmed down briefly, but despite having a full plate of pancakes, she cried over the one piece she dropped onto the floor. I moved her to my lap and used one hand to try to keep her on since my large baby bump meant I had little “lap” to speak of. With the other hand I did my best to eat my omelet. Holding my daughter made the already sweltering diner feel like a hot box. It was heaven whenever the door opened and I found myself wondering if maybe I could manage to step outside for just a moment. Every attempt to put my daughter back in her seat was met with whining, so for the sake of the other patrons, I endured.
There was one gentleman sitting alone at the window table directly in front of us. He appeared to be a blue-collar guy on a break. When I entered, I’d hoped he would be leaving soon, but when his meal arrived, my hope was dashed. He seemed to rush through his plate, in large part I imagine due to my daughter, and appeared tense every time she fussed. I felt terrible when I saw him walk to the back to pay but a little relieved. All of the other patrons were behind me, at least I didn’t have to face them. A short time later, the waitress came to our table and asked me if I knew the gentleman in the window. I didn’t. “Oh, I thought you did,” she said. “He paid your check.”
My daughter had clearly ruined this man’s lunch break and instead of being angry and frustrated about his ruined, all too brief relaxation time, he went out of his way to make my day a little better. He effectively ended what could have been a cycle of frustration and negative emotion. And thus the reason for the quote above, “When you have a bad day, a really bad day, try and treat the world better than it treated you.” It is a sentiment that I will do my best to pay forward.