A Perfect Day—to Help Out

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Autumn--my very favorite color." -- Belle Oliver

“Autumn–my very favorite color.” — Belle Oliver

A Perfect Day—to Help Out

Today was the perfect day. Beautiful, sun-dappled October afternoon. Warm weather—perfect for shirtsleeves. Indian summer was the phrase that came to mind. Couldn’t imagine anything better.

My youngest daughter was in Chicago for the day, working at the restaurant where my oldest daughter is manager. At the last minute, my oldest daughter needed an extra pair of hands at the restaurant. Good thing her sister was available! Moreover, the reason I went into Chicago this afternoon.

Full disclosure: my husband does not particularly care to go into the city on the weekend. For years, he’s worked downtown during the week, so he prefers to be anywhere but the city when it’s his time off. Except, it was a particularly gorgeous afternoon, one of the very last until next spring—November being right around the corner. I wanted to know whether he’d be willing to come with me to pick up our daughter when she was done at the restaurant. Sure, he said.

Neither of us expected to see children trick-or-treating all up and down the street. Participating businesses had signs in their windows, stating that they welcomed trick-or-treaters. Mid-afternoon, temperate weather, sidewalks mobbed with people of all ages dressed in costume. Sure, mostly children, but also twenty-somethings, parents, even older people. As my husband and I walked to the restaurant, I commented on several adorable or remarkable costumes. My husband and I saw lots of princesses, some superheroes, spacemen, dragons, lions, pirates, and black cats.

I wonder whether some people wear their costumes on other days of the year. A few even all the time. Not necessarily fancy-dress costumes, but still in masquerade. Still putting on a part, not being real or genuine. Sure, some of it is protective, or amusing, defensive, or even unconscious. I thought these deep thoughts afterwards, not this afternoon. At the time, I was too busy enjoying the sights and sounds of the passing parade of people. As I think back on the afternoon, other than remembering the gorgeous weather, I wonder whether I might wear a costume sometimes. Just pretend. Whether I am less than genuine and real sometimes. If I am honest, I must admit that I do wear masks, I do wear a false face or costume sometimes. I hope it is less than I used to. God willing, I can try to do is to be honest and genuine, one day at a time.

This afternoon, my husband and I successfully retrieved our daughter, made our way back to the car, and wended our way home. My husband even encouraged me to take the long way, which pleased me. And, my daughter was overjoyed that she didn’t have to take the El all the way home. Altogether, a lovely, out-of-the-ordinary fall outing. And, an extraordinarily pleasant way of being helpful.


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Being Kind? Not Spouting Off . . .

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, August 19, 2014

restaurant drawing Navaredo (1)

Being Kind? Not Spouting Off . . .

I will drink most kinds of coffee. It does need to be decaffeinated, but other than that, pretty much any kind of coffee will do. Ask my youngest daughter, who is getting ready to go away to college this week. She’ll tell you I drink good coffee, mediocre coffee, even wretched coffee, if necessary.

My daughter and I went to a big box store today to get her some last things. Before move-in day on Friday. About a block away, we saw a chain restaurant. My daughter mentioned (wistfully) that she hadn’t been to that particular restaurant for a number of years. Thinking suddenly, she amended that, since she and her friends had been there for a festive occasion about two years ago. We both laughed. I asked her whether she would like to eat there this afternoon. Special, festive occasion, and all. After all, it isn’t every day that one’s youngest daughter prepares to go off to college.

We went in, sat down, and checked out the menus. I noticed the service was slow. Even after the waitress came to take our order, she disappeared in the back for quite a while. I ordered decaf coffee. (As my daughter will verify, I do this all the time, and just about every restaurant.) When she finally brought the coffee, it was cool. She disappeared before I could mention the tepid coffee to her. I really don’t mind tepid coffee, but I needed to add a good deal of milk to it. (It has to be the proper color, after all! A nice, lighter mocha. Or café au lait, if you like.) Five little cream containers were on the side of the cup. I put them all in. All of them. And the color of the coffee hardly changed, at all.

That was strong coffee, believe me. Strong, and really rotten tasting. I kid you not. I will drink most kinds of poor and even wretched coffee, but this coffee, today? I do believe this was the worst coffee I have ever drunk in my whole life. And, that’s saying something.

I didn’t see the waitress again for some time, except far away across the room. She delivered some plates to another table, a good distance away. Since my oldest daughter is the general manager of a superb breakfast/brunch restaurant in Chicago, I have some elementary idea of how restaurants operate.

And this one? This restaurant my daughter and I were sitting in this afternoon? The service rated a 3 out of 10. My coffee was a 1 out of 10 (and I thought that was generous, even charitable). The only saving grace was the food. Absolutely marvelous. Really and truly.

My daughter mentioned my showing disapproval in the tip. Or, lack of tip. I said it might not be the waitress’s fault. (Of course, as time passed, I do tend to think her lackadaisical attitude might have affected her service. But the coffee? To complain about that, I asked for the manager. And even then? I expressed myself in a courteous manner.

In retrospect, I think I was courteous when dealing with the restaurant staff today. I wonder how I might have acted and spoken if the situation had been different? If I had been in a bad mood, or had a headache, or any one of a number of other things? I can thank God that I was able to be kind. (Thanks, God!)


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