It happened in an eat-in-the-rough restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine. My friend Melissa and I had just ordered our meal when a boy walked into the room balancing a large tray on his shoulder. It was covered with several plates of food.
A family of five behind us was about to get their dinner.
As the boy stooped down to slide the tray onto the serving stand, a heaping plate of onion rings shifted and the whole tray went crashing to the floor.
Everyone in the restaurant stopped eating.
The family of five turned in their seats and gazed down at their food.
The boy stood in the middle of the mess, looking stunned and embarrassed.
That’s when it happened…
A waiter came rushing into the room – a young man who looked to be in his late twenties. He stopped at the entrance when he saw the food scattered all over the floor. We all took a collective breath as we anticipated his next move.
He stood quietly for a few seconds to assess the damage, then knelt down at the boy’s feet and started cleaning up the mess.
“It’s okay,” he said in a calm, loving voice as he scraped food off the floor. “It happens to all of us.”
The frightened boy slowly leaned down next to him to help pick up the plates.
“Please don’t feel bad,” the waiter continued as he playfully tousled the boy’s hair. “We all make mistakes. You’ll forget about this in no time.”
Melissa and I looked at each other, tears brimming in our eyes. A hushed silence filled the room. The waiter’s kindness was palpable. I’m sure everyone in the restaurant felt it.
Now there’s a model for how to be a good human being, I said to Melissa as we resumed eating our meal.
A beautiful lesson in choosing kindness under pressure.
I thought about that experience tonight when I stumbled upon a website where people were airing their differences about the political campaign here in the states.
It was brutal. Disturbing. The epitome of unkind.
Where is humanity headed, I wondered, as I read some of the caustic, bitter comments before snapping my computer shut?
Where is the kindness, the willingness to listen to different points of view?
Where is the restraint?
I’m grateful for the habit I’ve cultivated over the years of pointing my judgmental finger back at me when I saddle up on my high horse.
These are all the things I need to remember, I tell myself, as I go about living my own life.
I need to listen, really listen, when people share their differing views (in mature and thoughtful ways).
I need to resist the temptation to unload the anger that comes to the surface when I feel scared onto an innocent other.
I need to be on the lookout for ways to be kinder to my fellow human beings.
And I need to stay grateful for the young people, like this waiter, who give me hope for our future. #x2665;
Video of the Week
This week’s video is an empowering Ted talk about the gentle power of highly sensitive people. You can watch it here. Great job, Elena!