21.8.13

Everyone has a story so pay attention

by Lacey Slater


A friend of mine recently shared this story with me and I asked her if we could share it with The Brighter Side.  I told her it was exactly what we're all about - sharing 
Good News, Great Ideas and Amazing People.  
Here is her inspirational story.




My husband and I set out on our weekly “Date Night” this past Wednesday off to our local IHOP for a light-hearted meal of “breakfast for dinner”.  It seemed like a fairly normal evening of laughs, when I noticed an elderly lady sitting alone at a table just down from ours.  She was well dressed, looked very nice (wearing a gorgeous animal print sweater) and reminded me of my own grandma.  I should mention that I currently live 3 hours away from my grandma, so my heart was feeling a little more empty and a little more open to this woman than usual.   I mentioned to my husband that it made my heart hurt seeing her sitting there alone with her senior omelet and decaf coffee.  He looked at me like I was crazy! I explained that under no circumstance would my grandma EVER have to eat dinner in a restaurant alone – there are just too many of us that care about her!  There was something that made my poor heart hurt so bad seeing her sitting there alone on a Wednesday night at IHOP.  Realistically, I know that maybe this woman just wanted a night out alone – I don’t know her! Maybe she is independent and enjoys evenings of quiet, stress free dining….but something in my gut told me that wasn’t the case.

My husband and I chatted about her for a while, the whole time myself convinced that this woman had a very sad story. I said to him, what if one day that is me sitting alone in an IHOP because you are not around.  He just laughed and called me a softy, but then agreed with me that we would pay for her meal.  I mean, I have more change on the floor of my car than her meal cost.  When our server came over (which I should add – she was a fantastic server – great service from this young girl), we asked for her to add the woman’s food to our bill.  Even the young server seemed surprised.  Is our world really in such a state that a stranger paying someone’s $10 bill is a shock? She had her manager add the women’s meal to our bill and off we went to pay at the front.

We didn’t want to be noticed or praised for this, we just wanted to put a smile on someone’s face and get outta there quietly.  While we were paying, I heard the woman ask her server for her bill.  The server told her, “Your bill has been taken care of.” I could hear the woman asking her server, “Why? I don’t understand?! By who?”  The server kindly told her that the young couple at the table a few down had offered to pay her bill. The women proceeded to be in awe, saying “ I just don’t understand why they would do that!”  The server left her with -  “I guess it’s your lucky day.”  

In the meantime, there was a rush of patrons entering the restaurant (who knew it was such a busy place for dinner on a Wednesday night?), and our effort to pay and get out of there quickly and unnoticed was slowly disappearing!  We didn’t want anything from this woman, not even a thank you. We just wanted her to leave feeling like someone out there cares!  Well, to no luck (in hindsight it WAS luck and you will see why soon), we went out into the parking lot where the woman stopped us.  She had tears in her eyes as she asked us why we did that for her.  We just said “because we wanted you to have a good night”.  Tears streaming, she proceeded to tell us that her husband was in the hospital for the last 4 weeks with major heart problems (and not doing well at all), and that, that was the reason she eating alone. She then proceeded to thank us multiple times. It took every ounce of strength in me to hold my tears back until we got in the car.

I shared our experience on my Facebook page later that evening and it managed to BLOW up my page.  We got over 100 likes from friends and family and a plethora of notes and comments on how we are “great”, “kind”, “full of love” – I didn’t post it for praise.  I just wanted people to know my heart was happy and show how easy it is to do something simple that changed this woman’s day (maybe even week or month). I hope that someone that read that post saw how simple it was to change someone day with very little required on our part.  My husband and I have now made a deal as part of our weekly “Date Night” to each week do something nice for a stranger.  It might be as simple as carrying a pregnant woman’s groceries to her car, pumping gas for an elderly person in the rain or just giving a gesture of kindness to a random person.

The world needs to take a step back and be kind to one another.  We are too self involved, self pitying and self righteous.  My grandfather said it wisely as a comment to our evening – “***** and ****'s kindness is infectious and spreads to all who their message reaches. The number of "likes" and comments on Facebook is testimony to that. Facebook is also a winner, instead of people's petty vanities and arrogance being posted for once there is a message worth reading. It perhaps requires now that more of us do a kind act.”  I couldn’t agree with this message more and encourage everyone to “liked” or “commented” to just do one kind thing for another person.

We didn’t know a single thing about this woman as we sat eating pancakes.  Like I said in the beginning, she could have very well just enjoyed dining solo.  But in an instant and a very small $10 later, I saw a glimmer of hope in a very sad woman’s eyes.  I'm glad there was a delay in paying our bill, as I was able to be a part of a moment in time where someone who was in major need of love and kindness received that.  And seriously for $10?!  You never know by looking at someone what they are going through. Whether someone they love has left them or been lost, they are fighting an illness or that they just lost their job. That money meant nothing to us! I spend that on Slurpee's on a Saturday!  But she got to leave feeling full of love – and that makes my heart smile!

Lacey


 ©Lacey & Ellen
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