I had the privilege of being apart of something small and meaningful. Even though I’m an Atheist, however, I hold strongly to the ideaology taught most well-known by Jesus of not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing: in other words, I do not like boasting about good deeds. I would rather no one know whatsoever. To boast would be taking the attention from the one receiving, to the one giving, as if saying “look at me! I’m doing something good!” This isn’t what doing good is about, and although I can argue philosophically against altruism (which I do not believe exists) philosophical ethics has little to do with actions.
Either way, I do what I can to keep this blog anonymous so I can share things like these. It may be futile with the way the internet goes, and I could probably try harder… but alas! I’m not helping myself here.
The point is, I had the opportunity to take part in an act of kindness, and it taught me something. It caused the world to stop around me, and for a brief moment see the potential for good around me. It can be hard when I live in one of the most ignorant-filled, bankrupt cities in the country… but it was there.
I work in the food industry as a waitress. My last table was an older lady, a lady my age, and a child. There wasn’t much eventful about their day, until a friend gestured to myself and our manager. We both listened as we were told my table’s story. In brief, the lady my age had lost her husband on a tour overseas, after having decided to leave the service to marry his wife, who wanted marriage put off until he would be staying home for good. He was asked to do “one more” tour, to his wife’s disagreement, he went, and did not return. This was 8 months ago. The manager and I looked at each other, both moved and hurt, and wanted to do something. The manager, in fact, insisted, we give her something on the house.
I had the small pleasure of being the deliverer: her bill on the house. I brought the bill to her when they were all finished, with their dinner mint’s inside, giving nothing off, just saying my usual when I drop the check. Then I ducked around the corner and waited til she read what I wrote on the check, “Just wanted to see you smile! 🙂 ” with a circle around the “Total 0.00”.
I snuck up on her, and asked “Well? Did you smile?” He laughed uncomfortably, looked at me, and said “I’m confused!” I just shook my head, and said “The meal’s on us today. We just wanted to see you smile.” I walked off, her friend and our fellow server went to talk to them, and before they left I could see her looking around for me. I went up to them again, she handed me the tab book which I tried not to take because I knew she left a tip for me in there, and said “I don’t know why, but I need to give you a hug” and we hugged, I thanked her, and she left.
She would find out later that we knew her story, we just didn’t want to bring it up at her dinner or make her sad. And yeah, maybe the story would mean something more if it was truly random and without cause…. but would it?
The lesson I learned from this is that… it was Right. It was The Right thing to do. In that moment, in that place, in that time, there was nothing else more Right to do when we heard her story. There are times when we do good and question it, because we know scams exist and people are manipulative… but when someone is in a unique place of hurt, or a place of desperation, despair, or sadness… the human race often finds ways to do good.
I could address issues of world poverty, big business, theological problems of evil, and try to explain all of that through this story… but all of that stopped for a moment in time today. Somehow, something good came through someone’s hurt. I saw a ray of meaning in what I do every day, and what we all do every day. We encounter people with stories, every day, and have the opportunity to do good or do nothing.
Jewish culture and religion call these mitzvot, when’s the last time you did one? How did it effect you?
A penny for your story?