On another level...
Today a co-worker friend of mine, who also is a school teacher, messaged me and asked if I could work in her place tonight. Another mutual friend was going to work for her but had become quite ill and was unable to cover the shift. I told my friend I would help her as I know it is teacher conference week and she needed to be at school and she’d do it for either one of us in a heartbeat.
I work in the restaurant business and tonight was exceptionally quiet. It comes with the territory when the sun comes out people want to be grilling and chilling at home with their families. I didn’t mind. I kept myself busy just the same.
After the dinner rush things really quieted down it was just myself and another server working and we were taking turns waiting tables as guests came in. It was the other servers turn but, I was cleaning her section therefore she was unable to take a table at that moment, she brought the next guests to my section.
It happened that I recognized one of the guests from a previous visit. The young man was a lot of fun on his last visit. He and the young lady he was with and I laughed and joked throughout their meal. For every smart remark he made I had a comeback…when the meal ended they asked me some questions about my Spanish. As I throw a lot of Spanish words out there to keep them fresh in my mind.
Honestly, there are many times when I want to walk up to a table and say, “ a de Applebees Julianna…” and I have to stop myself and reprogram my brain to make sure what comes out actually is English.
The young couple thought it was pretty cool that I have been to Guatemala a few times and that I did all this volunteering, educating, and donating. They left and went about their way, typical night. I never gave it a lot of thought as many people ask about Guatemala and I love to talk about…Frankly, it is a subject that never gets old.
Tonight, that same young man was having dinner with whom I assume was his father. I greeted the young man in the same manner as last time. “I see you brought a friendlier face with you tonight…I am excited to be your server...haha I am not gonna be his though…” and the other gentleman laughed, “She’s got you all figured out.”
What happened next took me by surprise. I was about to take their dinner order when the young man said, “Ask Juli what she does when she’s not a server at Applebees?” The man did. I told him about Guatemala. I told him about selling my clothes and donating the proceeds. The man just stared at me and smiled, “Wow, you are… just wow…” I tear up sometimes when I talk about it, rather than shedding a drop, I took a deep breath, smiled and said, “I will order your dinner you two enjoy your drinks and walked away.”
As I was working I kept looking up at the young man and thinking about how much fun we had teasing and joking on his last visit but, how I never thought he was paying attention to what I said that night about Guatemala. I get asked all the time about it and wonder…But this young man was listening. I was touched by that.
When the two were finished dinner and I delivered the check the father set his bill off to the side and said, “Listen, can I talk to you about something not related to this?” motioning to his check, I said, “Certainly, what can I do for you?” He smiled putting his hand out to me gesturing me to take something saying, “I think what you are doing is fantastic, you are an exceptional individual and I would like you to have this.” My mouth dropped, my eyes filled a little (deep breath, deep breath), I accepted the gift and replied, “Oh my. Muchas gracias, es no necesario…” The man said, “The world should have more people like you in it.”
I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and one good turn deserves another. I was not supposed to be at work tonight, it’s my day off. I was merely helping a friend who wanted to help and friend. I was not supposed to have that table, it was my co-workers turn. It just happened…
When I got in my car and drove home I thought about all the times I have talked about Guatemala at work, all the people who I have shared my experience with and how this moment impacted me. It was because it was a perfect stranger. They don’t know me and they get it…
A simple act of kindness…
I want to say a heartfelt thank you for the most generous donation. I assure you it will be put to good use. Moreover, I want to say an even greater thank you for making me aware of just what an impact the Guatemala project continues to make.
I am so blessed.