I’ve had two interesting experiences at my neighborhood McDonald’s since I’ve been blogging. The first one occurred during my year of firsts. Aubrey and I stopped by to get her an after school snack. She wanted to eat inside. After I placed the order, the young man behind the counter said, “Sing. Sing and your purchase is free.” We happened by on the first day of a new campaign.
The only song that I could think of, put on the spot like that, was Happy Birthday. Yeah, as in “happy birthday to you…happy birthday to you…happy birthday dear McDonald’s person…happy birthday to you.” Aubrey hid around the corner. I’m sure my cheeks were bright pink as my voice trailed away. But we got our purchase for free. And it’s a funny story now, that Aubrey laughs about.
The second experience happened today.
As I was headed home after a trip to the grocery store, I swung through the drive-thru and ordered a large unsweet iced tea. As I stopped at the first window to pay, the friendly cashier thrust his arms out in a “stop” gesture and told me with a grin that the car ahead of me had paid for my purchase.
I’ve had fun doing that several times in the last couple of years, however this was my first time to be the recipient of such an act of kindness. I love pay it forward activities, and I wanted to continue it. I promptly paid for the purchase of the car behind me. While I had only ordered a drink, the person behind me had ordered a meal plus an additional burger and drink. I didn’t mind the difference in cost at all.
I waved merrily to the car ahead of me, wordlessly expressing my gratitude. The cashier beamed when I paid for the car behind me. He expressed the hope that everyone else in line would continue to pass on the act of kindness.
As I pulled forward to receive my drink at the next window, I glanced behind me and caught a glimpse of who was in the car. And my eyes filled with tears.
Yesterday I was in a situation where I didn’t know what to do. I had lunch with my granddaughter at her school. As we ate, I couldn’t help but notice a boy near us. He was eating a lunch brought from home. And it wasn’t much of a meal. He had food. But not the best food.
I wanted to go buy him a school lunch. But I was unsure if that was the right thing to do. My thoughts swirled around…What if he is offended? What if he packed his own lunch and this is his choice? What if it’s not allowed, for me to buy a child a meal? In the end, I did nothing.
And for the rest of the day, I regretted my inaction. Over and over I wished I had simply gotten up, bought him a meal, and let him decide if he wanted it or not.
Ultimately, my question had been, “Does buying one meal for a child one time make a difference?” I knew I wouldn’t be present in the lunchroom the next day or the next. Did it matter?
The question went out…and today, it was answered.
As I drove forward I saw into the car behind me. A young woman looked surprised as she was stopped from paying for her food. She looked my way and smiled as the cashier gestured toward me. And behind her, in the back seat, was a small child. I had bought his food.
“Does buying one meal for a child one time make a difference?”
Yes. Yes it does. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. I got the chance to feed a child afterall. And if I ever see the boy at Aubrey’s school again during lunch, I will follow my instincts and buy him a lunch.
Because it matters.
Pay it forward…pass it on.