On Good Friday my kids had the day off school. Wanting to do something special with them, I planned a day of going out to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and then off to the library for books, books, books! Taking 4 kids between the ages of almost 13 and a toddler out anywhere is always a big fiasco. There’s always fighting over who gets to sit where in the car, who looked at whom, who breathed too hard in another’s direction, and so forth. By the time we got to this little local Italian restaurant my mom-nerves were shot.
Luckily this restaurant is very low-key and family friendly. And they have the best pizza lunch special ever. Everything was going along like normal. We ordered our drinks first, then food once everyone had decided what they wanted, and there was the requisite “I have to potty” requests. The good thing about food is it keeps everyone’s mouths occupied so the bickering is kept to a minimum. As we finished our meal I was expecting to receive the check, pay it, go to the bathroom and wash marina sauce off of several small hands, and then move on to the library. Instead the waitress said that a gentlemen had already taken care of our check. She said that he said he knew us and wanted to do something nice. I was so flabbergasted my first response was to say, “why?” She even brought out mini-ice cream sandwiches this man had bought all of my kids. I had been so distracted with my 4 quibbling offspring I had not noticed if someone I knew was in the restaurant. It’s a popular local place so it’s not unusual for me to run into someone I know. I even set a tip down on the table and the owner came out to tell me that it wasn’t necessary because this man took care of all of it. He had a huge smile on his usual kinda grouchy face and thanked us for coming in. My kids were so pleased to have this kind act done for them they immediately made requests to do something nice for someone else.
Did I happen to mention that this is the restaurant where my husband asked me to marry him? Yeah, it’s a special place where good things tend to happen.
This good deed done for my family reminded me of another time 15 years ago where something similar happened. I had almost forgotten about it until Good Friday.
My husband and I went on our honeymoon to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, one of my most favorite places on earth. It’s beautiful, breath-taking country. On our last night there the hubs and I decided we wanted to go big and eat dinner at a fancy restaurant. When we got to the restaurant we had in mind we found out that the prices were too expensive for our poor college student budget. So we settled on going to the local steakhouse that was a lot like Sizzler. We had just enough cash on us to buy gas to make it home and we didn’t want to use that money on anything else. Luckily for me there was plenty of money in my bank account. But as we went to the register to pay for what we had just ordered (like Sizzler, you have to pay before you can be seated) my debit card would not work. They tried it several times and it just wouldn’t work. It was humiliating to say the least and I sat down and cried thinking the last night of our honeymoon was ruined. I even think I articulated that sentiment out loud since the manager came out and had us sit down and he said he would work it out since we were there for a special occasion. Pretty soon our food was brought out to us and I figured the manager finally got my debit card to work since it was brought back to me. It turned out to be a lovely meal we quite enjoyed. Near the end of it a cowboy walked up to us and said that he heard we were on our honeymoon. He asked us where we were all from and made some small talk. The hubs and I are really out-going people and we’re used to strangers talking to us out of the blue. As the cowboy was about to leave he handed us a small bundle of cash and told us it was enough to pay for our meals and tip our waitress. He congratulated us on our marriage and left the restaurant. I think our jaws dropped to the floor. We were so humbled and so grateful. Our debit card never had been charged for that meal. The funny thing was, on our way home the next day we used my debit card in plenty of places and it worked perfectly.
It’s good to know that there are kind people in the world who like doing things to help others. I’ve been the recipient of these kind acts on many occasions and it has always driven me to be more generous and more kind. I hope 20-30 years from now when I’m a grandma enjoying a lunch in solitude, if I happen to see a young mother struggling with her pack of children in a restaurant, that I will look at my Good Friday experience, pay for her meal, and pay it forward.