Food For Thoughtfulness

| NH, USA | Awesome, Employees, Food & Drink, Pay It Forward, Popular, Transportation

(A group of friends and I travel to New Hampshire to campaign for a political candidate. We are sleeping on the floor of a community center in a tiny town with very few food options, and since we’ve traveled with a group from our school, none of us have access to a car. After a long day of knocking on doors in the snow, we desperately try to find a restaurant that delivers, to no avail. We set out to the nearest place we can find, which is about a 20-minute walk. We get there at least a few minutes before the stated closing time, but there is already a woman sweeping the front entrance, so I know they are done for the night. Since I work in food service and hate people who demand complicated meals right before we close, I told my friends we should just go home. Then, the woman opens the door and motions us in, out of the cold.)

Woman: “What can I do for you all?”

Me: “I’m really sorry; I know you’re trying to close. We were just looking for a place to get something to eat.”

Woman: “I’m afraid our kitchen is closed, but I can get you guys some drinks from the bar while you warm up.”

Me: “You’re very kind, but we’re really hungry, and since we’re all under 21 I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

Woman: “Most of the places in town are closed, but there’s a Mexican place about a 10-minute drive from here that’s open for another hour. Do you have a car?”

Me: “No, but thanks for the suggestion. We can walk or take a cab.”

Woman: “Don’t be silly; I’ll give you guys a lift.”

(Before we can say anything, she takes her apron off, runs to the kitchen, and comes back with her purse and keys. She ends up driving us to the restaurant in her minivan. During the conversation that follows, we find out that she owns the restaurant, while also working as a nurse because she doesn’t make enough from the restaurant to pay the bills. She also has a daughter in college, about our age. During the ride, we all pool our cash and try to pay her for her time and gas.)

Woman: “Absolutely not. You kids just make sure to pay it forward someday.”

(I will probably never see this woman again, but I think of her all the time and the kindness she showed us.)

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