About nine years ago my husband and I were expecting our first child. We were relatively newly married, just bought a house and saving everything we could to start building our new life together. It was a special occasion and we had gotten an amazing coupon to a great restaurant in downtown Toronto that our phone service provider had sent us in the mail as a thank you for being a valued customer. We figured we’d make a night of it, got all dolled up and headed downtown for supper. We knew that we’d get to eat at this great, trendy restaurant and have a wonderful night. We got a great seat right by the window, overlooking downtown Toronto, ordered carefully off the menu, perusing each item, taking in the ambiance but also silently adding up the total, making sure that the bill and tip at the end of the meal was within budget as young couples starting out their lives together often do.
The food was delicious, though I can’t remember nearly a decade later what it was that we had ordered, all I remember is what happened at the end of the meal. We ordered and shared a delicious, decadent chocolate desert (yes, I remember it was chocolate) and took it all in. Then we asked for the bill. The waitress walked over to us with the bill; a summary of what we had ordered that evening with a sum total of $0 at the bottom. Clearly something had to be wrong. It didn’t make sense. I even had a coupon to pay for a large portion of the meal, why would it say zero?
We asked to speak with the manager who smiled as he strolled through the restaurant. He discreetly pointed over to a large table with several business men sharing a meal. He told us that our meal and the tip had been taken care of by the gentleman in the grey suit. I was stunned. There I sat, recently married, visibly pregnant, all dolled up and confused. I walked over to the gentleman in the grey suit and asked:
“Excuse me…” He interrupted me “Yes.”
“Did you just….” “Yes.”
“Do I know…” “No you don’t.” “But…”
“No need,” he interrupted me. “No need for a thank you. I looked over at you and your husband sitting by the window and you reminded me of someone I once knew. Have a good evening.” And with that he turned his body back to his dinner mates, ending the conversation.
“Thank you” I said over the loud dinner crowd as I walked away from the table.
A random act of kindness. I know it was not the first time I had been the recipient of such a selfless act of kindness but it stood out for me. It taught me in that moment what a tremendous difference a simple act of selflessness can do for someone. That meal wound up hardly being about the restaurant, the food or the new dress I had worn but rather that selfless act of kindness that complete stranger had done for us. I told myself in that moment that one day, I want to be that person. I want to be the person who completely changes a stranger’s day, evening or week simply by being kind. Have you ever experienced a selfless act of kindness?