Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Random Act of Kindness

A few weeks ago, one of my friends woke up on a typical Saturday morning, intent to spend quality time with her 10 year old daughter by taking her to a popular luncheon spot.  Unbeknownst to her, by the time the sun completed its daily journey through the summer sky, she would be much wealthier for her actions that day.  No, she did not defy statistically impossible odds and earn her place on the list of lottery winners, but she did gain something almost (or even more) valuable....a new friend.

Seems my friend took notice of an elderly woman eating alone at the table next to her in the restaurant.  Saddened by the woman's plight, my friend decided on the spur of the moment to perform a random act of kindness, and she paid for the lonely customer's lunch.  In return, she received the woman's unbelievable gratitude, as well as her company for the remainder of her meal.  She learned a great deal about the woman, and by the time they parted ways, each felt a tremendous sense of compassion, kindness and empathy from the other... a feeling that cannot be purchased, no matter what the wealth of the intended buyer.

Since learning of my friend's generosity, I became determined to imitate her charitable spirit, as soon as the perfect moment presented itself.  Last Friday, the perfect moment presented itself!

In preparation for our weekend visit to Raleigh, North Carolina for my nephew's graduation party, My husband Bob decided he would place his "Starvation Plus Package Plan" diet on hold for three days.  Not intent to wait for Saturday morning to begin his binge, he decided to let loose at dinner on the way to the airport.  Yes, two slices of pizza would surely prove to be a great start to his self-imposed "don't diet" weekend.

After Bob, my 14-year old daughter Melissa and I took our seats and placed our order, the conversation turned to our much-anticipated weekend and the excitement of spending time with relatives who we had not seen in over a year.  As the waiter placed our pizza on the table, I noticed an elderly lady take a seat in the booth next to us.  I glanced at the door, expecting to see someone join her, but alas, nobody appeared, and after five minutes or so, I had to conclude she had come to eat all alone.

"I feel so bad for that lady, she's all by herself," I said to Bob and Melissa, who glanced over at the lonely diner but said no more.

I began to form an imaginary scenario about this woman, and the events in her life that had led her to dine alone in a Pizza Hut.  She glanced at a piece of paper in her hand, something that looked like it could be an amateur program, the kind that boasts elementary school chorus concerts or church fashion shows.  I thought that perhaps she had stopped on her journey to see a grandchild perform, and maybe she had left too early and needed to while away some time.

I began to formulate my "random act of kindness" plan, and, I admit, I felt uncertain, strange, nervous, weird.  How would this woman react?  How would my family react?

I decided to keep my plans quiet, and nonchalantly excused myself to go to the rest room.  Afterwards, I stopped at the register and asked who had waited on the woman.  I told the server that I wanted to pay for her meal, and asked him to keep my "random act of kindness" confidential until we had safely exited the building.

Once back at my table, Bob, whose back had been to the register, did not show any indication of witnessing my actions.  Melissa, however, asked what I had been doing.  I told her I'd tell her when we left the restaurant.   She smiled and said, "I think I know."

With satisfied bellies, we made our way back to the car and resumed our journey to the airport.  I turned to Melissa and said, "So, what do you think I was doing at the register?"

"You paid for that lady's meal, didn't you?" she asked in reply.

"How did you know that mommy was going to pay for her meal," asked Bob.

"Because," she said matter-of-factly in response to her father's question, "it's what I would have done."

Now, I will be the first to admit, the $4.59 charge for the lady's meal did not break the bank.  What's more, I know there are millions of people all over the world who dedicate their lives to helping others, so my actions were certainly not deserving of a Nobel Prize.  However, knowing my "random act of kindness" inspired my daughter to, if given the chance, mimic my actions..........PRICELESS!

Please let me know if you like my stories - your comments inspire me!!


  1. OK, that made me go all teary-eyed. Kudos to you and your friend, and to your daughter, who's got the spirit! :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

    1. Thanks so much Mina! Most of the time my daughter thinks I'm a moron so it's nice that I had a good influence on her!!

  2. Lisa, at our old church, people were encouraged by the pastor to do just that very thing. He would say to just bless the person in line behind you at the drive through by paying for theirs, etc. It is a wonderful act of kindness and I'm proud of you for taking the cue to do that. Good gestures breed good gestures.

    1. Thanks Cindy - I hope I planted a lasting seed in her!

  3. I love stories like this. I also love that Melissa saw you do it and reacted the way she did. Obviously she has grown up seeing your actions speak louder than words!! Very cool!

    1. Thanks Kathy! I guess sometimes she doesn't think I'm a moron after all!

  4. What a great story, Lisa. So uplifting. You've definitely inspired me to pay if forward. I'm so glad you passed the compassion and spirit of giving on to your daughter. Very nice!