I had eaten half my cranberry-turkey salad when I realized I didn’t get the jam for my whole-wheat bread. I asked our server as she breezed by our table, and who created wind gusts in her haste to get to another table, if she would bring me the jam I had ordered. “Oh yes, I’ll get that for you,” she said as she whooshed by causing my blondish-locks to blow wildly in her wake.
Five minutes later I noticed our server whooshing back and forth serving customers at other tables. She seemed to have forgotten my request. The holiday shoppers had descended on the bakery like bees swarming a flowering bush. Determined to have jam, I left my seat and asked the cashier at the counter if she would bring me some jam.
“I’ll get that for you,” the cashier said with a “you-got-it!” smile. I returned to our booth where Jerry calmly sipped his coffee. He stared at me. “What happened to the jam?” he asked. “They’re busy,” I said. “It’s okay.” After all, I would survive without jam.
I know I will stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
And I’ll survive
I will survi-iiiii-ive, without jam (hey hey)
Minutes passed and the jam still hadn’t arrived. I noticed the cashier’s distraction as more customers descended around her. I decided to forget about it.
Our server whizzed past us again, hoisting orders in both hands, maybe a Rueben panini or a French Dip on a baguette, or maybe thick slices of German chocolate cake. As she passed by, Jerry asked, “Could my wife have some jam, please?”
“Yes, I’ll get that right away,” our server said and plopped sandwiches at the window table of her waiting customers.
Soon our server stood at our table with boysenberry jam in a paper cup and said, “I’m so sorry for not bringing this sooner.” She then handed us a loaf of pumpkin bread and said, “Please accept this as my apology. I’m the manager here and we’re short on help. I didn’t mean to ignore you.”
Of course, we accepted. I love pumpkin bread. Later, I said to Jerry, “I would have been happy with her apology, I certainly didn’t expect pumpkin bread. I could see she had a lot of customers to wait on.”
I realize that some people don’t even do what we expect, much less more than we expect. We expect, for instance, to “live” when we drive to the store. But some drivers choose to cut us off on the freeway without signaling, or giving any notice of their attempts at homicide. I guess I should expect that, but I’m always amazed at drivers trying to kill people. I also don’t expect a person to shove me out of the way to get the last Costco sample of one-inch burrito piece. But it happens. And I do expect peace in the dentist’s lobby as I wait for my hygienist, Jen, to call my name. I don’t expect to endure the sound of someone cracking their knuckles on and on and on… until …(Oh stop that, teenage girl! I can’t take your knuckle-cracking one more second and I’m about to throw this Better Homes and Garden magazine in your direction and yell, “Whoops! How did that fly out of my hands?” when it lands on you.) Thankfully, most people do what we expect. They sit quietly in the dentist’s lobby gawking at their cell phone. Thank you. And some use their blinker and give you a wide berth before they cross into your lane. Thank you. Most people allow you the last one-inch piece of burrito since you waited in line and your turn had arrived. Thank you, thoughtful Costco shopper.
I always feel taken aback when someone goes out of their way to make things better because they care about others. I don’t expect anyone to go out of their way for me and when they do, I’m always surprised.
While Christmas shopping in a department store, a complete stranger sauntered up to me and asked if I’d like to have her store coupon as she didn’t plan to use it. Why yes! I don’t mind saving money. I accepted. Thank you, nice stranger.
On Christmas Day, my 1-year-old niece Nova, a bright-eyed cherub, bumped her head. Instantly, my 2-year-old niece Skye, also a cherub with the most beautiful, flowing strawberry-blond hair, said, “Oh Sissy is hurt,” and rushed over to her sister and kissed her. Her mother didn’t tell her to do that. She decided on her own to quit playing with her new toys and to comfort her sister.
Why do young children know compassion instinctively while adults often forget? They’re on the road tailgating, waving unfriendly hand gestures, screaming, “Outta my way, I need a latte right away!” Beep. Beep. Bee-eeeeep.
When people offer kindness and compassion, more than they need to do, they give of themselves in a way that is uplifting to the moment or situation. People who go the extra mile for us lift our mood, make our day brighter, renew our faith in humanity.
I served the pumpkin bread at the dinner we had for my son and my daughter-in-law. My son enjoyed the pumpkin bread without even realizing it was a gift from a lady who runs a bakery. Not that I wanted him to think I had freshly baked it especially for him. Ha. But he can think what he wants.
Actually, I didn’t think to mention the pumpkin bread incident as we had so many other things to discuss. But that’s the beauty of kindness and generosity and forgiveness—they quietly heal places in your heart. Sometimes discussion isn’t needed.