Until yesterday I used to think it only happened in films.
Today I know different. Today I am transformed because of what took place yesterday. Today I am a believer. Best I explain.
Picture the restaurant scene in what I’ll call a ‘Hollywood date movie’. The pretty brunette seated at table seven is told by the gum-chewing, middle-aged waitress with the pencil behind her ear that the stately looking gentleman at the table in the far corner has just paid for her drinks and/or meal. She chances a look in that direction and there’s the handsome stranger staring back at her while giving his best ‘You’re Welcome’ nod of acknowledgement; a nod sitting precisely midway between debonair and two parts creepy on the BLI (body language index).
Admittedly what I found myself on the receiving end of yesterday was a sizeably scaled down version of this act of philanthropy, with not a hint of romance attached, but it was also by no means any less affecting.
There I was inching my way forward thru our local McDonald’s Drive-thru (pardon the doubling up on ‘thru’ just now but it was hard to avoid) to be suddenly greeted by the heart-fluttering news when reaching the pay window – I prefer the slightly more sci-fi leaning term ‘pay portal’ myself – that our order had been paid for by the car in front. I should make clear at this point that this was not a regular-latte and small fries sized order but one that came to nearly $30 to feed a car carrying five people.
Shock and awe does not begin to describe my reaction to this random act of kindness on the part of the driver in front. Twenty four hours later and I still have not wiped the smile from my face nor the warm inner glow from my whole being. Is that too grand and dilated a statement? I don’t think so, considering something like this has never happened to me before and on at least a number of levels it comes closest to what the average person might be able to reasonably call a ‘magical’ experience – short of spending a month wearing loose-fitting clothing clutching prayer beads whilst living in an Indian ashram.
The only downside of the experience was I didn’t get to thank the anonymous driver who was the perpetrator of this random act of generosity. While I was busy still picking my jaw up from the front seat and wondering if I’d just slipped into some alternate wholly-good universe, (and if so trying to work out how I could lengthen my stay) the car in front rounded the corner and was gone. All I remember it was a white Land Cruiser with a female driver and a young boy aged about ten sitting alongside in the front passenger seat. To the both of them now I say this: kindness is like a viral YouTube video. Every person who sees it is quite likely to feel like sharing it with others. Thanks for sharing your kindness with me.
I still can’t decide which was the more magical – the act itself or the timing of the act. The other part of this story is that along with my wife and six-year-old daughter, in the car with me on this day were my Korean mother in law and Korean brother-in-law. Both were on a first time visit to Australia. Neither speak English. They may not have understood the spoken words but very quickly each caught on to the fact that something good and something unusual had just taken place.
My wife and I joked that in an act of conspiratorial humor we could have squeezed even more ‘feel good juice’ from this kind-hearted displaypiece positioned amidst the fruitbowl of human benevolence and pretended, for the sake of our international guests, that this gesture of goodwill, rather than being something out of place and extraordinary, was to the contrary a quite common occurance here and merely ‘just how things are done’ in this country. If only!
In the spirit of pay it forward (acknowledgement to the 2000 movie and the 1999 Catherine Ryan Hyde novel the movie was based on) I did exactly that later that same day. That’s a story I’ll tell another time, maybe even using the heading
You know the one. The first rule of DELIGHT CLUB is you must talk about DELIGHT CLUB. The second rule..
10 thoughts on “Miracle at the Drive-thru”
It is hard to follow and say:
“You’ve been pranked!”
Rather, I muse on the delight one gets from “positive shock syndrome”, and letting one’s imagination run wild on the effect it has had on random strangers.
I would indeed be amazing if one day they appeared as a follower of your blog Glen, claimed it was them, and could still remember what you all ordered, 2 years down the track. 🙂
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As you well know Roger, I’ll welcome any potential follower of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK with open, untattoed arms. Perhaps understandably, white Land Rovers with female drivers and 10 year old children in the front passenger seat are my new favourite vehicle to spot whilst out driving.
Know this as well – I would lay out the welcome mat on this blog for that woman plus throw in a complimentary salted caramel frappe if ever she decided to continue the cycle of feel-good and join the faithful following this blog.
Stranger things have happened (but seldom do they happen).
Pay it forward! What a good idea. Let’s see more of it.
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Probably the last thing you want to have happen if you do pay if forward is to be directed to the waiting bay while they prepare your order. I think the impact would be lost if you were stuck in the waiting bay while the car behind pulled up beside you to find out your identity. They may even insist on paying. 🙂
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Awkward and a little less magical for sure. I can totally picture that happening!
Utterly magical, Glen. We need more of this in the world, especially with recent developments all over the globe. Such generosity and kindness, deliberately made anonymously, restores faith in humanity at a time when such a boost is needed. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be posting links to this on FB, Twitter and Google+ to spread the word. We can never have enough positivity, after all!
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Thanks very much Stuart.
Technically I think it was a case of ‘Pay it Backward’ since I was behind that woman in the que but that’s not in front of or to the rear of but rather beside the point. The other one I’ve heard of in the ‘Random acts of kindness’ category is placing a positive note in a jean pockets at a department store.
Friday April 28th is World Pay It Forward Day with more than 80 countries signed up to participate in what is being promoted as ‘the ultimate ripple effect’.
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