Moments of Kindness
We have all experienced it at some moment in our lives. By it, I mean the warm happy feeling that we are important to someone other than the people who care about us on a daily basis. The feeling that we receive when we are having the worst day possible and a random person “picks us up” by doing something small. Generally, people wake up every day to experience the same people showing love and affection in their lives. Doesn’t it feel great to feel love and genuine kindness from people we do not expect to receive it from?
While growing up I have come to realize many things. In particular, I believe in the power of random acts of kindness towards other people. Haven’t we all experienced that feeling when someone goes out of their way to hold the door for us? Or when someone compliments us when we need it the most? Sometimes the experience is powerful enough to change our day. Personally, I have experienced two coincidental events that I will never forget. Events that shook me so much I was forced to look up and really believe in the existence of a higher-being.
During my junior year of high school I started dating a girl named Emily, and we continued to date for two more years. Although my parents were fairly financially stable, money was limited considering I have five brothers and sisters. Furthermore, my parents were experiencing the after affects of a dramatic and expensive divorce. As I matured I realized I was going to have to make a lot of money on my own at an early age. Making enough money seemed an impossible task considering my schoolwork and playing baseball took up nearly all my time. However, I was able to hold a few part time jobs through high school that provided a small income.
For most relationships, birthdays are generally always important. Everyone wants to treat their girlfriend to a good time on her birthday, and I was no different. Emily always talked about going to the Cheesecake Factory and how much she loved their cheesecake. With that in mind, I decided that dinner at the Cheesecake Factory would be perfect on her birthday. However, I knew that the fifty dollars I would spend was more than I could easily afford. At the time, I only had about one hundred dollars in my bank account, and the thought of spending half of it on dinner and the rest on Emily’s birthday present was stressful.
Emily’s birthday eventually rolled around and I only had sixty dollars left in the bank after buying her present. As I drove to pick Emily up for dinner, I was stressed over money. Obviously I did not want Emily to know I was stressed so I tried to relax and enjoy the evening.
Eventually we arrived at the Cheesecake Factory and ordered our meal. Coupled with drinks and dessert, our bill was sure to be around fifty dollars. However, our bill never came. We sat talking for a while and I eventually asked the waitress where our check was. She didn’t answer right away as she just looked at me and smiled. Eventually, through her bright shimmering smile, she mumbled, “Don’t worry about your check, it has been taken care of”. Immediately I looked around the restaurant hoping to catch someone staring at me. No one was looking. As I turned back to the waitress and asked her who paid for our check, she just smiled and walked off. I was in a state of shock as I stared at Emily. I couldn’t believe it. It was weird to me at first, but I eventually started to realize how much my mood had improved. For an unknown reason, somebody randomly decided they were going to pay for my check and brighten my evening on a night where money was weighing me down.
The night at the Cheesecake Factory lingered on my mind for the next couple weeks, but I gradually forgot more and more about it as time passed. However, the night came thundering back into my memory a year later as Emily and I went to celebrate her birthday again.
For Emily’s birthday the following year, we were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for a retreat with my fraternity. I was not dating Emily at this time, but we were still very close so I decided to take her on our retreat for her birthday. Her birthday was on Saturday, and before going out that night with everyone, I told Emily I would take her out to dinner. Around seven, Emily and I got into my friends car and drove to eat at a Mexican restaurant called, No Way Joses.
Once again, money was an issue as we went to dinner. We were on vacation and I had spent more money on the first night than I had expected. With limited funding we agreed it was necessary to eat as cheap as possible.
Not once before or during dinner did I ever think back to what happened on Emily’s birthday the previous year. It was like I had completely forgotten about that night. Eventually, Emily and I finished our meals and we sat and talked. Once again, the check never seemed to come. I never thought anything of the missing check until I went to ask the waitress where it was. As soon as I started my question, Déj– vu hit me really hard and sent cold chills all through my body. It was as if my mouth froze and I could not speak. After hesitation, I cleared my throat and asked the question. “Where is our check?” I saw the same shimmering smile I experienced exactly one year before. Even after seeing the smile, I still doubted the possibility of it happening again. No way I thought to myself. The waitress soon cleared my doubt as she let me know that our check had been taken care of.
I was awestruck. Memories immediately started racing through my mind of what happened the previous year. I stared at Emily. We were having a conversation by simply staring at each other and not saying a word. After a minute or two we both smiled and broke the trance we were in. Conversation started and we could not believe it. Two years in a row is unbelievable. Even more shocking was that no one at the restaurant either time knew it was Emily’s birthday. I gazed all around the room as if I was looking for a sign by someone to show me who it was. At this point, I did not want to leave the restaurant I was so curious.
Never before had I heard of anything like this ever happening. How could the same thing happen to the same two people, on the same date, two years in a row. After pondering all the possibilities and reasons, I realized how lucky I was. Once again, while having money issues, my check was paid for by someone random. Someone randomly decided they wanted to pay for my check. I do not know their reasoning, and never will, but the warm feeling I felt internally was incredible. Two years in a row on the same date I received a random act of kindness that brightened my night and made me realize the importance of these random acts.
Although the events on Emily’s birthdays were incredible and changed my night, the effects of that night were much greater. Those nights did not just effect my night or weekend, it has effected my whole life. My morals and values have become much more important. In particular, I strongly believe in random acts of kindness towards other people, especially people we do not know. I hope one day that I can “pay for someone’s dinner” and change their perspective on life.
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