Can Kindness be Found in a Waffle House?

June 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

My wife and I were dining on what is arguably the best breakfast in the world – eggs, sausage and waffles at the Waffle House.  I am a people watcher.  My wife…not so much.  She complains regularly that I am not paying attention while she is speaking to me in public because something or someone will catch my eye.  She’s often right.

On this day, I noticed a woman and her 2 children approach the cashier to pay for their meal.  Several years ago, Waffle House was cash only.  No credit cards were accepted.  This woman, being a Waffle House Rookie, was not aware of this and was caught with no cash.  During this conversation, a man and wife filed into line behind her to also cash out.  The gentleman could not help but become aware of the situation and promptly insisted on paying for the woman’s breakfast.  I was fascinated by this act.  It was spontaneous and generous.  The woman thanked the couple repeatedly.

I pointed out this commotion to my wife and she told me that she recognized the gentleman as the pastor at a church she attended years ago.  We talked about how nice this was and it made an impression on us.

Fast forward 18 months.  Same Waffle House, same fantastic breakfast and coincidentally, same couple who had paid for the woman’s breakfast.  We motioned for the waitress and told her that we wanted their check.  We paid for their check and tip and left them a note the gist of which said “We saw what you did a year and a half ago and we wanted to do the same for you.”  Then we left as quickly as possible.

This is a fun story to tell.  We don’t tell it to brag, we tell it to encourage people to do nice things.

Fast forward 6 months…my wife receives a phone call on a Sunday afternoon from a friend who still attended the church where the pastor preached.  She was also aware of our story.  She told my wife that the pastor had related the story in his sermon that morning as an illustration of kindness.

This particular story was retold to his congregation of 500+ people.  His simple act of kindness wound up not just affecting the woman and her kids.  It affected the cashier, the waitress, my wife and I, our friends and eventually, his congregation and who knows beyond that.

We were lucky to see the ripple effect of this act.  This does not happen very often.  Usually your act of kindness goes unrecognized and without thanks.  You can only hope that it will make a difference.

Here are some examples of random acts of kindness.

  1. Pay the toll of the person behind you.
  2. Donate to a charitable cause.
  3. Send an anonymous card.
  4. Let the person in a hurry behind you, go in front of you.
  5. Pay for the person’s drink behind you at the 7-11.
  6. Give your lunch to a homeless person.

These are simple, but they are so uncommon, people will wonder what your agenda is.

Aesop said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small it is, is ever wasted.”


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