So sometimes you have (much like Alexander of the beloved children’s book) a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. It happens to all of us. From the minute you get up, you’re doomed. Everything that can go wrong, whether major or minor, does go wrong and quickly sours your mood. Just let me make it through this day, I’ve said on more than one occasion. And in totality, these days hopefully just add up to a blip on life’s radar. I know for sure I have had many more great and even just OK days in my life than terrible ones.
But a few months ago I was having one of those truly awful days. I was sad, I was missing my great kid who was off at school, I was struggling with something big that left me grasping at straws for a solution I knew was not there. And it finally got to me and while I was driving home from my visit with my Mom, I started to cry, although crying is not really an adequate word for what I was doing. It was more like deep, gulping sobs of built-up emotion and I couldn’t seem to stop. Knowing that letting my emotions get the best of me was not the safest way to drive, I pulled into McDonald’s and decided to order a drink, pull into a parking spot and get myself back together.
And I got to the order window and, between tears, placed my order. Calmly placed my order, I thought. But there must have been something in my voice that got the attention of the young lady who took my order because when I got to the window to pick up my frozen lemonade she asked me if I was OK and was there anything she could do to help. I apologized and said I was just having a bad day and she responded by saying that she’d be on her break in 15 minutes if I wanted to wait and she’d come and talk to me. And then she told me that I didn’t have to pay for my drink. She wanted to give it to me because she wanted me to know that there are people out there who are good and kind, people placed in our path when we seem to need them most.
In this world where it’s far too easy to be jaded and disillusioned about what we see and experience every day, I cannot tell you enough how much the kindness this person – who didn’t know me at all – extended to me that rainy night meant to me then, means to me now, will always mean to me. She was my hero that day and what she did, as small a gesture at it may seem, helped me get through my bad day. I will do my best to pay her gift forward to someone who may be having their own bad day because saying “thank you” is not nearly enough to honor what she did.