I’ve been seeing a whole lot of those articles and postings about random acts of kindness by complete strangers on social media lately. Y’all know the ones I’m talking about. A family struggling with bankruptcy has their grocery bill paid by a nice lady just because. People picking up the check for the person behind them at Starbucks. A waitress getting a random $100 tip on a $13 check. I sometimes read them for some unknown reason; it’s not the type of stories I’m usually drawn to. I’m ashamed to admit that when I do read them, my usual reaction is skeptical: yeah right. These people are making that shit up for publicity.
I’ve been in a funk for a few weeks now. Some of it is work-related. Some of it is home stuff. Will’s work schedule changed a bit. He’s now going in an hour later and therefore getting home an hour later. It’s “only an hour,” but it’s made a huge difference. I went from not seeing him much to not seeing him at all. We’ve also had some pretty hefty obligations and tasks the past couple of weekends, so that’s just compounded it. I’m feeling some pretty deep sadness about some of my other family – stuff that I don’t intend to write about.
I’ve just been in a funk. Oscillating between feeling depressed and angry. And really really lonely – lonely yet crowded in that way that probably only mothers can feel. There’s no one to have witty repartee with, so that part of your brain just languishes. Meanwhile, there’s always someone up your butt demanding something. By the time I do get to sit down and talk to someone, I just can’t. I’m stopped up. I’ve called this “cognitive constipation.” It’s been a strange and hellish psychological mix that’s difficult to even articulate.
A few weeks ago, Will and I decided to try to steal a lunch together. I say steal, as I was telecommuting, Felix was with us, and Will was rushing to get to work on time (and I was conscious of the clock, as while I’m allowed to have a lunch on telecommute days, I don’t think I’m supposed to take an hour and a half). We decided to go to a Mexican restaurant near Will’s store to try to save him time.
We ate. I had enchiladas. Felix squealed, flirted with the waitress, and colored (mostly on the table vs the paper menu they gave him). Everything was going very quickly until the plates were cleared. We sat and sat. The very nice waitress came by loads of time to check our water and tea and ruffle the boy’s hair. Finally I had to ask: where’s the check? It was so incongruous that we had had this attentive service but that the check would be neglected.
It was paid, she said.
I thought she was messing with me.
Then I thought I had mommy brain; Will had paid it while I was sitting right there and I was too dumbed-out (real term as of now) to know it.
Nope. It was paid, she said. Had I seen the table of older gents when we came in? I was vaguely aware that there had been a table of 4 older guys, but that was it. I didn’t know them. I hadn’t made eye-contact with any of them. I was trying to get my string-bean of a son to eat something and talk to my husband – steal a precious half hour or so with him.
One of the guys was a regular. He regularly did stuff like this. Just paid a random table’s tab.
Y’all, I wanted to cry.
I know that sounds so silly, but I’ve never had a random person do something like that for me or my family. It couldn’t have been much. Maybe a $15 purchase. But it. Was. So. Nice.
So yes. Things like that do happen to real people. Just because. Random acts of kindness. Who knew?
I will, as they say, pay this forward. And not once. I’ll be all government-like and do it in triplicate. Someone out there, one day, will enjoy a pro bono caramel macchiato, or a Big Mac on the house. At least 3 of them. Maybe more. Probably more.
I just wanted you all to hear that story. It won’t go viral, but the sentiment should. And it’s important for me – when I’m feeling low and alone – to know that this kind of stuff is out there. It made that stolen moment with my husband – son in tow – that much more special and memorable.
To whomever you are, sir: Thank you. Not just for a meal, but for a shot in the arm.