One Simple Act Of Kindness
One Random Act of Kindness.
It was my rather typical day at work. I was an evening server at a pizza place, nothing exciting. We had a problem with a homeless man loitering in our store. We were told to kick the man out if he had tried to do so again. I had never seen the man, nor did I necessarily want to kick him out. The floor was dead, not a customer. It was getting late, probably near 7pm when I see a man crossing the road. He was heading towards the store, and with one look, you could tell he was a homeless man. It didn’t take much for me to judge him by his appearance. I kept thinking how I was going to throw this man out. I didn’t want to, but it was expected of me. He walked in, awkwardly. I felt annoyed with him to start to be honest. He approached me, his eyes beyond bloodshot, his cloths and hair quite obviously dirty. He asked me, “Hello sir, could you be kind enough to tell me where the bathroom is?”
In a half annoyed voice, I told him it was down the hall, to the left. He nodded and made his way down the hall. I was so naïve then, judging him as he took each step. He made his way back after some time had passed. I was actually shocked when he said he wanted to order something, as awful as that is. To this day, I remember what he ordered. He ordered a whole large pizza, pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom, on thin crust, a coffee, a water, and pop, all for himself. I thought to myself, this is over 22 dollars, how will he pay for this? I am ashamed I had such thoughts. He pulled out his old military wallet, with his Soldier’s I.D in the inside cover. He pulled out a twenty and five, and I gave him his change. I gave him his cups, silverware, and plate and he went and sat at the first booth to the right. I kept staring at him. I felt like I had known him from somewhere, but I could not remember where. After brewing up the man’s coffee, I brought the pot out to him, since no one else was going to be drinking it. I walked up to him and said, “I am sorry sir, but I feel like I know you from somewhere. Have we met before?”
He looked up at me, his kind blue eyes bloodshot. He smiled as he said, “No, probably not.”
I asked him if we had gone to the same church, or if he was a regular, trying to decipher that feeling of knowing him, but we had not known each other. He smiled and said slowly and calmly, “If you think we know each other, then we must”
I smiled back at the man, agreed, and went back to work. I did not know why, but I felt so drawn to him. Just moments ago I was so cruel in my thoughts, but now, I felt so important to me. I brought out his pizza personally, set it on the table, and asked if he needed anything else. I hesitated to bring it, but I felt like I had to. I asked him “I noticed you are a veteran sir. Thank you for your service.”
He responded slowly, with that smile I will never forget, “I was a private, in Vietnam.”
“Well thank Sir. Both my great uncles fought in Vietnam. Not many soldiers received thanks for what they did overseas. So thank you.
He simply responded, “Son, you don’t know how much that made my day.”
I was almost fighting back tears when I asked for his name. He responded slowly, as if he had almost forgotten his own name. He worked it out slowly. His first name, then spelled out his last name with a noticeable pause within each letter. I will never forget this man’s name. I then asked him “Sir, can I shake your hand?”
He smiled, and we firmly shook hands. I smiled, and went back to cleaning the floor, still trying to hold back tears. I let him enjoy his meal, to which he ate every slice. I walked up to him again, asking if there was anything else that he needed, addressing him as Sir, as I always did. He said he’d like some ice cream, mint chip, chocolate chip, and chocolate. Instead of having him come up to the counter I took his money and ordered it for him. We weren’t allowed to do three scoops per one order, but I charged him for two anyways. I wouldn’t let this man leave without the ice cream he ordered. I brought it to him, with his 32 cents which I set on the table. I asked the man if I could sit down with him, to which he very happily said that I could. He asked me for my name, which I had told him. I forgot why, but I asked him if he had anything planned for the holiday weekend. He told me he was going to go see his wife, who was buried a state over. My felt heart ache as I asked him how he was going to get there, but he assured me he had a car. I knew he was lying, but I did not say anything. He had finished his ice cream rather quickly, and I asked him if he would like anything else. He looked me in the eyes, and passed me the 32 cents and said, “Could I have another 3 scoops of ice cream?”
My heart broke. Almost in tears I said, “Yes Sir, let me get you that right away.”
I walked up to the counter, pulled the three dollars I had made for tips that day, and I purchased this man’s ice cream with my own money. I did it as an act of kindness for a man who had changed my life. I scooped up the ice cream for the man, and brought it to him placing his change on the table discreetly. I went in the back, where I was told to go home. I walked up to the man and told him, “Sir, if I ever see you in here again, it would be my honor to be your server again. My shift is over, so if you need anything, let my manger know.”
He smiled and thanked me for everything. I smile, nodded, and walked out the doors. And as soon as I was almost a block away, I saw the man walking down the sidewalk the other direction. This man changed my life. I learned I was so wrong to judge, and I am so ashamed that I ever had such thoughts. He taught me how foolish I was to assume he was inferior to me, simply because he had less than I had. I honestly cannot thank this man enough for simply teaching me that. I was so touched by his gentle words and smile. I will never forget him. That day was one of the turning points in my life. I learned one act of kindness, no matter how small, can be life changing.