(I’m a university student struggling through my busiest day of the week on little sleep when I decide to get some lunch. I stop at a cafe on campus, planning on getting some soup since it’s cold outside.)
Cafe Worker: “I’m afraid we’re out of soup today.”
Me: “Oh, um, I guess I’ll have [sandwich], then.”
(I go to pay and realize I don’t have very much money on me, which adds to my already growing stress levels.)
Me: *exhausted and near tears* “I’m so sorry; I was only planning on getting soup so I’m short money for the sandwich. I can run back to my dorm; I think I have time.”
Cafe Worker: *shakes head and smiles* “So that’s one small soup. Your total is [total]. Have a great day.”
(I’ve since graduated but I haven’t forgotten the small act of kindness that helped an exhausted and very stressed out student get through the rest of that day.)
I have been working about six months in a food service job when I get a call stating that I have been offered a government job from a previous interview and that it is mine provided I can pass a background check. I let my manager know, along with the understanding that I won’t put my notice in until the background check clears.
Over the next few weeks, I make sure to let my other coworkers and some of my regulars know, as I’ve grown to have a good relationship with them. I did expect a good-bye on my last day; however, I didn’t expect the three specific things that happened during my last shift.
Firstly, one of my breakfast regulars said how proud he was of me and that he’d really seen me grow as a professional while I’d worked there. I appreciated him saying that given I’d definitely had some screw-ups in my time.
Secondly, three women who had been using our lounge to study for their nursing exams presented me with a Starbucks gift card, and a table of women who liked to come in after their swim lessons gave me a card with sixty dollars in it.
I was practically walking on air for the rest of the shift, but the real kicker was at the very end as I was packing up to leave. One of the managers, someone who had been tough but fair with me, came up to me and after taking back my apron, said, “Just so you know, we’re all so proud of you for landing this federal job, and if you ever need it, you’ll always have a job here if things get tight.” I never had to fall back on that, but as I walked out that day to go home, I couldn’t restrain a smile and some small tears of gratitude.
(A few months prior to this story, a new pizza delivery place opened in our neighborhood, owned & operated, though we didn’t know it at first, by a family of Ethiopian refugees. It’s absolutely the most delicious, and often most unusual, pizza either of us has ever eaten, and even though we really can’t afford to, we wind up ordering it once or twice a week. One evening there’s a knock on the door, and it’s our pizza guy, with a large pizza in his hands…)
Me: “Oh, hi, [Pizza Guy]. Good to see you but we didn’t order a pizza tonight.”
Pizza Guy: *beaming* “Yes, we know. You order so much pizza from us. You tip always. We bring you pizza, say thank you.”
Me: “Oh, but we know you guys are struggling. You don’t have to do this.”
Pizza Guy: “Mother say we must.” *holds the pizza out more* “You take, thank you.”
Me: “Oh, in that case…” *I take the pizza* “Thank you, and thank your mother.”
(We had to move away from there a few months later. I hope they did well. Wonderful people, and awesome pizza!)
(I am working at a very popular amusement park that is Snoopy themed. I get put on Roving Carts which are carts that move. I don’t have a till, just an apron with pockets for cash, and there is no phone available so I have to wait to be checked on if I want anything. Using a cell phone is frowned upon. On this day it is unbearably hot and my manager said she might pull me after she gets back from lunch. I have drunk all my water and am just hovering under the little shade my cart has. A girl from the store next to me comes by with a dolly full of ice.)
Girl: “I am on my way to DQ for ice. Want me to pick you up some water?”
Me: “Are you serious? I don’t even know you!”
Girl: “I get it; it’s hot outside. I’ll be right back, if you don’t mind waiting a minute.”
(She came back a few seconds later with three bags of ice and a cup of water in her hands. After she gave me the water, a half hour later my manager pulled me in because it got too hot. I still don’t know that girl’s name but my other coworkers said she did it for them, too.)
(My mom hates any service people, even though she claims she doesn’t. She’s always going to stores and making big scenes whether or not she gets her way. We go to a grocery store and she orders some meat. I’m already cringing because the butcher looks exactly the type that she hates. He gives her her wrapped meat and she pays for it.)
Mom: *taking out a dollar* “And here’s a tip. Go get yourself a cup of coffee, my friend.”
Butcher: *nods in thanks and takes money*