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When kindness is confusing…a drive through memoir

I was driving home from a show last night (which I really enjoyed and will write about on another post) and decided that what I was getting for dinner after 10pm on a Friday was a Happy Meal from Mcdonalds….because that’s what mature adults can decide to do.

I ordered and proceeded to try to pull forward in one of those two lane drive through. The car in the other lane gunned the gas and lurched forward to merge ahead of me, and I must have had a WTF look on my face because who fights over a merge in a drive through? Just don’t hit me you can have the fries!!

As I pulled up to pay the cashier at the window was laughing and looked as little incredulous as she said,” The lady ahead of you wanted me to apologize to you because she thinks she cut you off and she is really sorry.” She continued on to say “and she paid for your happy meal.”

Since I had my cash already out I gave it to her and said,” That’s so nice of her; I’ll pay for the people behind me. Any change, apply to the car behind them.”  The girl laughed, asked if I was sure, and then took my money.

I was then told my happy meal was not yet done and could I wait in the spot in front of the store, which I did.  Not 3 minutes went by before someone comes running out with my order and said,” The people paying is about 6 cars deep now, this is so cool!”

It hit me then that this is one of those things that I hear about and think sounds awesome but think will never happen to someone I know.  That’s why I thought all this unexpected civility (the apology) and the kindness (pass it along!) struck me as so weird. All this kindness seemed to confuse and astonish everyone involved, myself included.

Currently it feels like it is so easy to be cynical and hard; to put up a front, to be critical, or to be petty.  In fact, it almost seems to be the trend and the cool thing to do as we root for an anti-hero and fight against anything that seems too good to be true.  It can be argued that we do it because to believe in good and people can seem like an uphill battle in this world where heroes let us down and the world can seem to be against us. While a happy meal or a few hamburgers may not change anyone’s world, this moment was a delightfully unexpected opportunity that allowed others to do something small to be nice to a total stranger with no expectation of getting something in return.

So really, it falls back on a lesson in customer service that I learned from someone near and dear to my heart many years ago, Patrick Swayze in ROADHOUSE*.


Be Nice
Be Nice

“Be nice”

Let’s all try it a little more often, shall we? Maybe it will be less of a surprise to everyone in the future…and yes, we want fries with that.


*Seriously, you have no idea how many trainings I made are based on this movie.

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