Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Brighten Someone's Day

I hope this story will brighten your day and think of something you can do to brighten someone else's.

Yesterday, I took my kids to McDonald's for lunch. I'm nine months pregnant, my oldest was off from school, and the weather was just about perfect (72 degrees, bright and sunny). I thought we'd eat and then find a park so they could run around and I could be forced to walk myself closer to labor.

Anyway, McDonald's. We place our order, and I reach into my wallet to find that I had no payment method! I remembered that I had put my credit and debit cards into a just-in-case hospital bag on Saturday and had forgotten to transfer the cards back to my purse when I didn't go into labor over the weekend. I had no cash, either. Drat. I apologized to the cashier and told him I needed to run home (about a 20-minute round trip) to get my credit card. I apologized to the kids and told them we needed to go home for a minute, but that we'd come right back. I tried to herd them out the door. My middle son (4-1/2 years old) was upset with me: "Why do you always forget stuff?" It wasn't true, and I know he was just disappointed at the delay, but I was irritated and irritable and stressed out, and his accusation upset me more. I must have seemed extremely frazzled (and embarrassed) by the whole event. We made it out the door and started back to the car when a middle-aged woman called out to me.

"Ma'am? Let me pay for your meal."

I stopped, stunned, and turned around. "Oh, that's so nice of you. It's okay, though. I really did just forget my cards."

"I know. It's no problem. I'll pay for your food."

"Really, it's okay. We'll go home and come back."

"No, no. I had six kids. I know how much trouble it is to load everybody into the car. Don't worry about it. You go order your food, and I'll follow you to the register and swipe my card."

What could I say? "Thank you so much. That's so kind." So kind. The kids and I went back inside, placed our order again, and the lady swiped her credit card without comment.

"Is the fourth one a boy, too?" she asked.

I smiled and nodded.

"Just wait until you have six!" she said.

I thanked her again and she went back to her table. About 10 minutes later, my toddler requested water, so I went back to the register to ask for a water cup. The kind lady was standing there and reached for her wallet. "Did you need something else?" she asked.

"No, no, just water!" I said.

She smiled.

I told my kids that a stranger had just done something very nice for us, and we needed to find a way to pay it forward. I explained the idea to my 6-year-old, who really seemed to understand the concept of making others happy so that they would go forward and make more people happy, that it's not about paying someone back when they do something nice for you, but that you need to take that good feeling and good deed and pass it along to someone else.

If you see an opportunity to help someone out in some small way, I hope you'll do so. I know I'm going to make more of an effort to brighten someone else's day the way mine was brightened yesterday.

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