On one of my recent routine, early morning trips to Nashville for yet another meeting of some sort, I lined up at the drive-thru of one of my favorite local fast food establishments to grab and go. Interestingly in our world of multitasking and instant everything, fast food doesn’t even seem fast anymore. So while anxiously waiting in line, I was returning calls, checking messages, and generally thinking through the day ahead of me. What I was not doing was paying any attention to who was in line with me, unfortunately.
To my surprise when I finally arrived at the window to pay for my biscuit, I was greeted by a nice young man with a smile and a message. He informed me that the person in front of me in line had paid for my order. It took a second or two for that to sink in.
How unexpected. How kind. What a nice thing to do.
It is said that life is all about the dash that goes between the respective dates of birth and death. I don’t know who the person was who brightened my world that morning, but I am pretty sure that simple act of generosity is indicative of a dash worth emulating. Acts of kindness and generosity, whether random or by design, build up communities and make them exceptional. In the classic 1950 movie “Harvey,” Elwood P. Dowd said, “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ – she always called me Elwood – ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”
I am constantly reminded by visitors to Tennessee Tech about the friendliness of our campus. That is a source of pride for us, but also a reminder that it takes a constant commitment from all of us to take the time to do those little acts of kindness every day. A smile, hello, welcome, or “Can I help you” doesn’t cost much but pays huge dividends.
This week is Thanksgiving and we certainly have much to be thankful for. Now I can add one more to my list. To the kind stranger who paid for my breakfast, thank you for putting a smile on my face and reminding me of those things most important in life.
I wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving.