There are not many times when Ryan and I are both left speechless, but it happened one evening when we were out to dinner with the boys. It was our last night at the beach and a thunderstorm was threatening to hit. We chose the covered porch area because the wait for an inside table was over 30 minutes long. I realized too late that the outdoor dining also served as the smokers' hangout.
With the Olympics playing on the TV, the big storm hovering above and three rambunctious boys, conversation with the revolving door of smokers came easy. Our food took awhile to arrive and Ben became fiercely hungry. Ben's mood was not at its best - he was tired and hungry, never a good combination for anyone. One of the quieter smokers brought us out popcorn. He mentioned that things were a bit slow in the kitchen. We thanked him, and assumed he was an owner.
After we ate a delicious dinner, the waitress came over to tell us that our bill had been paid. My husband tried to guess who our thoughtful patron was, and finally on the third guess, he was correct. It was the man who brought us the popcorn and to our surprise, he was not the restaurant's owner.
I always look to Ryan for the best way to handle situations like this - do we go in and thank the man? Do we leave without saying anything? We agreed to write a note to him and leave it with the waitress, but before we left, he came back out to smoke. I gave him the note and personally thanked him. As Ryan walked out, the man commented on Ryan's patience.
I always wonder what we look like to outsiders - to some crazy, to others patient. I am sure there are a whole host of other adjectives in between. I am not sure what motivated this quiet man to help us out, but he saw something and he acted on it. It made our night very special. An ordinary dinner turned into something we will remember forever.
** Pay It Forward - May 2010