It’s Thursday night and I’m taking some “me” time for a dinner at the Halfmoon Diner. Sometimes I need to do things like this, just to recalibrate myself.
I’m looking over the menu… hmm… lots of good things here…
You know what… it’s just a normal evening, a normal time… I’ll just get something to eat, pay my bill, be done with things.
And it was at that moment… when I heard the conversation in the booth directly behind me.
A woman was on her cell phone, talking to someone. And suddenly, the conversation went from “What’s going on” to “Oh my God, oh my God…”
From what I could glean, the woman had received news that one of her family members was in a serious car-versus-pedestrian collision in downtown Albany that evening, at the them when the weather was a miserable, rainy, soupy mess. Spoiler alert – the family member in the car-versus-pedestrian accident was NOT the car.
The woman tried to get more information about where her family member was – which hospital did the paramedics take him, etc. Meanwhile, back at the Halfmoon Diner, her daughter and her mother were all sitting around the booth, their Thursday meal now completely insignificant under the moment of tragedy.
I sat in my seat. Oh my God, this emotional turmoil. I’ve known family members and close friends to suffer in car accidents. It’s ultra-scary. And the emotions that someone experiences – fear, anger, sadness, sorrow, confusion – those are scary too.
And I thought to myself… what if this were me, what if I received word on the phone that my kid or my best friend or someone I’ve known for years was in a car accident… what would I do, what would I say…
And I thought to myself… I should do something.
In that fraction of an emotional second… I did something I don’t normally do in this type of situation.
I quickly motioned for my waitress.
“That table behind me?” I said softly…
The server nodded. She could see the emotional turmoil they were going through.
“Do me a favor. Don’t say anything. Just bring me their check.”
“Sir, you don’t have to do that – ”
“No,” I relied. “I do.”
A moment later, she handed me their check. I quickly handed her my Rainy Day Credit Card and confirmed that, yes, I wold pay for the family’s meal. She brought the credit card slip back to me; I signed it and left a good tip.
I later heard the waitress say to the family, as they went to pay for what was supposed to be a nice night out, “Your meal has been already paid for.”
Within the span of heartbeats, the party of three came over to thank me.
Honestly, I wasn’t looking for thanks or vindication or anything like that. “Please accept my thoughts and prayers,” I said. “And drive safely to the hospital. All the best to you.”
After that, and a promise from the woman to me that she would gladly pay this random act of kindness forward, the family took their remaining boxed meals and left the diner.
A few minutes later, the server returned with my food – a nice order of lasagna. “I know that woman,” she said to me, “we went to school together. That was a very nice thing you did, I know they’re totally upset.”
“I know. I would be too in that situation.”
The owner of the Halfmoon Diner also came over to my table later that night, and also thanked me for my kind act.
I don’t know. Maybe this is how I’m wired. Maybe this is how I function these days. I just hope that the family member is okay and that he recovers fully.
By the way, the Halfmoon Diner makes a great lasagna. Just in case you were feeling hungry.
Probably the most fulfilling $100 lasagna I’ve eaten in a long time.