Just this morning I experienced a random act of kindness from a complete stranger reconfirming for me what I knew to be the case – that it pays to be nice.
Last night, I went to down to the beach to get a little work done and woke up at about 2a.m. with the power out. I was too sleepy to do anything about it, so I just went back to sleep knowing someone else would call it in or it would come back on within the hour. Around 7a.m., I realized that was not the case because it was 55 degrees and freezing inside (heater = electricity). Outside was no better, it was ice cold and a ghost town. The beaches are usually deserted in the winter anyhow (one of the reasons I like to go).
I walked outside to an adjacent house and flipped their outside lights, but it didn’t work so I knew it wasn’t just me without power. I had no Internet and no cell connection so I couldn’t look up anything online about power outages or even the electrical company’s hotline. I went to the store the day before to pick up some bagels to have for breakfast, but with no power, untoasted bagels didn’t look too appetizing. So I decided to go out to breakfast to my favorite spot, The Sea Cow Eatery.
When I got there, it was slammed. Evidently most of the island was without power and had the same idea. I was flying solo. Everyone else had a spouse or friends or family with them. Two more women walked right in behind me and we almost couldn’t fit in the waiting area. Seeing how packed it was, I told the hostess that I’d prefer to be seated at the bar (every seat at the bar was taken though) as opposed to taking up an entire table just for me. Unfortunately for me, the bar was packed like a can of sardines. Everyone was eating elbow to elbow so there was no personal space, but hey, it was cold outside, everyone was just glad to be indoors. When my name came up on the list to be seated, there was only a table available. I tried to decline (the two seater table would have been perfect for the two women that walked in just after me), but the hostess insisted I go ahead and take it. So I did, but just as I was getting a cup of coffee poured for me, a seat at the bar opened up. Perfect. Knowing my intentions, the hostess signaled to me that I could move over to the bar if I wanted. I waved the two women that came in after me over and told them they could take my table. I could tell they really appreciated me offering up my table to them so that I could go happily squeeze in with the other bar squatters.
Actually, I was glad to give up my table them because I guessed they would have enjoyed their time together with a little more personal space than what was available at the bar. So I scrunched on in between two dudes at the bar and ordered up an omelette, toast, grits and several cups of coffee. I finished up and walked to the register to pay.
The hostess said my tab had been ‘picked up.’ I was confused and said ‘ugh, what?’ She then pointed over to those two women and said they picked up my entire tab. I went over and thanked them, but they were clearly doing it without the need for any kind of thanks or recognition. It would have been all the same had I just turned and walked out of there without so much as a nod in their direction. That told me they were doing it just because they were nice people. So I got free breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants, all for doing nothing more than being nice and offering up my table to two others that would have enjoyed it more than me.
I don’t know anything about those two women, but I will always remember their generosity and I hope it comes back to them. It’s so nice to be nice. That sounds cheesy, but it is. Being nice is a choice and it doesn’t take that much work. Maybe you’ll get a free meal one day.