My family went out for lunch recently. It was a busy Sunday afternoon, so the service was slow and the server distracted. And after living for 2+ years in South Texas, eating Mexican food at a chain restaurant in Colorado was, quite frankly, rather disappointing.
Despite all of this, it was one of the best dining out experiences we have had in some time due to what happened at the end of our meal. First, though, you should know that Alyssa always requires a to-go box. Even if she ate all but one french fry or left only one bite of salad, she must have a to-go box. So when the server came over towards the end of our meal, she piped up.
“Um… ‘scuse me?”
Immediately, the server bent down to her level and looked her in the eyes. She looked back—making eye contact, which is rather rare for her.
“Um… I’d like a ‘go box, please.”
“Absolutely,” he said in a pleasant voice. “Do you need just one?”
“Well, my mommy needs one.” Then, after seeing she actually didn’t… “Oh, no. Just a ‘go box for ME!”
“Okay, I will grab that for you right away,” he said, straightening up and finally breaking eye contact.
Alyssa was ecstatic. Not only was she getting her ‘go box,’ but someone had cared enough to stop and have a conversation with her—not with her mom or sister, but with her.
As the server walked away, I looked at my mom and said “Well, that covers a multitude of wrongs.” And it did. Our dissatisfaction with the food and slow service immediately took a back seat because of one simple moment of kindness.
Since that conversation, I have been more aware of how people respond to Alyssa when she talks to them. Some will nod and smile while moving away as quickly as they politely can. Others don’t respond, but just look at her with a pitying smile. Still others don’t even try to listen, but look to me or my mom to interpret.
Very few take the time to look her in the eye and have a conversation with Alyssa. But it is something that means the world to all of us.
Because of this oh-so-brief exchange, our hearts were touched. We were changed. And I am challenged in my daily encounters to remember how simple, yet profound, a little extra kindness can be.