by Michael D. Hargrove Tweet
I want to share with you a true experience that changed the way my friend Tom lives his life and indirectly my view of the world.
At the time, Tom was waiting tables at the Newport Bay Restaurant on the waterfront in Portland, Oregon. As he was listening to a couple he had been serving quietly explain how they had somehow misplaced their money and didn’t have a single credit card on them, his thoughts ran from how to avoid an embarrassing situation in a crowded patio of patrons to how this was going to absolutely kill his check average for the day.
“An absolutely lousy way to end a shift”, he thought.
His focus was riveted back to the flustered couple as the woman asked, almost whispering, “What do you do in situations like this?” Tom didn’t have a snappy answer to this but before he could even give them a look of dismay, a man sitting at the table next to them calmly said, “Dishes.” They all looked at the smiling face next to them and he jovially repeated, “There’s always dishes you know.” Well, the laughter that ensued was just what was needed to lighten the heaviness of the predicament for just a moment.
Then the couple nervously rattled off a bunch of alternatives, “I know the bill’s for $57, but we have $40 dollars in the boat, we could give you that and one of our driver’s licences and come back later with the difference or we could leave you a $300 pair of binoculars as a deposit until we can get back here with a credit card or one of us could stay here while the other goes back to the dock to get our money or…”
“There’s another option.” It was the man sitting at the table next to them again.
“There is?” Tom asked.
The man continued, “Yes there is…I could put your meal on my credit card, you give me the forty bucks and then mail me back the difference later.” Everyone paused in silence for what seemed like forever but Tom knew was a mere heartbeat or two.
The lady broke in with, “You’d do that? Well, we could also leave you the binoculars or something…I mean we will pay you back. We own several businesses all over Portland and…”
“Oh, please!” the man interrupted, “If I thought for a second you’d rip me off for twenty bucks, I’d never have offered.” All the while this man was smiling a smile that lead Tom to believe he knew something that everyone else was oblivious to. Not a sneaky kind of Œget one over on someone’ smile but one that seemed to be born of…well, pleasure. This guy was thoroughly enjoying this exchange.
As the husband ran off to their boat to get the $40, Tom took the man’s credit card to ring up the bill. In his mind, Tom was half expecting the card to be maxed out or stolen. It wasn’t. He wondered what would possess someone to do this for a couple of complete strangers. Then he thought, “Well, my check average is saved but so much for the tip!”
When he returned with the voucher and a pen, the other man (his customer) had just returned with the $40 and was handing it to the good Samaritan. Tom returned his credit card to him and as he attempted to hand him the voucher to sign, the man held up his hand for Tom to stop and motioned to him to hand it over to his customers. He told Tom with a big beaming smile, “I just got here, friend, I don’t know if you gave these folks good service or if you stunk up the joint!” Then turning to the couple he said, “Don’t forget his tip!”
They didn’t. Tom was flabbergasted. Tom was pleased. Tom was ready to punch out.
As the couple was ready to leave, they thanked him again for his kind gesture but the man stopped them and told them that there was something he wanted in return.
“Okay, here it comes!” thought Tom.
The man said, “I’m really only returning the favor that a stranger once did for me. A situation not too unlike the one you two found yourselves in, as a matter of fact. Anyway, this guy told me exactly what I’m going to tell you now. In the next seven days, the opportunity will arise for you to duplicate this kind deed. It may not be obvious, but if you look hard enough for it, the opportunity will show itself to you. When it does…act! Don’t hesitate, don’t think too hard about it, don’t worry about the outcome…just act. When you do, we can consider ourselves even. Fair enough?”
“You do still want us to send you the rest of our tab, don’t you?” asked the lady.
“Of course,” he replied, smiling as he handed her his business card. “But the debt isn’t fully repaid until you do something like this too, okay?”
“Okay, sure!” they both replied in unison.
“But why the seven days?” she asked.
“You’ll see.” he said again smiling that knowing smile of his. The couple chuckled and went on their way. But Tom couldn’t help himself, he just had to know.
“Did someone else really do this for you too?” he asked the man.
“Yep, sort of…close enough anyway.”
“What’s really with the seven days, huh?” Tom asked.
“It’s simple. I just wanted them to look for ways to help others. Within a week or so, they’ll find plenty of ways to do something for someone else. But the nice thing that happened to me was, even though this guy bailed me out of my jam several years ago, I still continue to look for ways to perpetrate a random act of kindness whenever I can. It’s a fun way to approach each day and it’s had a dramatic impact on my life. My hope is that they’ll have the same experience as I have. Hey, it might be a good idea for you to do the same, buddy!”
Well, Tom indeed has done the same thing and, since hearing his story, so have I! I have found it to be an extremely enjoyable way to go through the day and the blessings that have come my way because of this outlook are too many to mention in this short story, but they’re real!
Now you have heard this story too!
Looks like it’s your turn now!!
© Copyright 2013 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved. Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc.