Worth a smile

Against my better judgment, I stopped at McDonald’s on my way in to work. Now, I know the food is not a solid nutritional choice. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that food is comfort. And they do support the Ronald McDonald House, one of my favorite charities, so I have to give them points over some other fast food options.

It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks. My son had an amazing day in school on Monday, only to have a very challenging day yesterday. I’m struggling with my grief a little more than usual as the holidays approach, and with the added stress of a new job, sometimes I just need hash browns and a Diet Coke. Judge me all you want, but it could have been a donut and cappuccino. I took the stairs to the fourth floor when I got to the office, so I am calling it even.

Anyway, I ran through the drive-thru after I dropped off my son at school. In route to his before-school care program, we had a conversation about respect. Part of his issue yesterday was disrespecting his teacher, his counselor, and other students. It was a little funny to me that when I mentioned the word ‘respect’ he immediately recited, ‘respect self, others and school.’ Obviously the message had been repeated and rehearsed. But he had no idea how to define it.

We chatted about how it is important not only to listen, but to do as he is told when he is in the classroom. He has a habit of being defiant when he’s triggered by transition or chaos, and as much as I think that could benefit him later in life, right now I just want him to adapt to school and learn how to be compliant. He is definitely starting to understand, and I know it will take time, but after I hugged him and kissed him and he told me ‘one more thing’ (his secret he tells me each morning before I leave), I was off to get my morning snack.

I pulled up to the window and the woman, early fifties with a soft, sweet voice, handed me a receipt and said, ‘Here honey, someone bought your breakfast.’

I thanked her, smiled, and handed her my $5 bill. I asked her to please charge me for the car behind me. The total was under $5, so I was good.

I pulled forward to the second window to finally get my hot fried patty of potato, and looked in my rearview mirror. The woman behind me had a huge grin on her face, and was handing the cashier her credit card. So she, too, paid it forward.

Not only did I get my comfort food, but I got comfort knowing that people are good, and prompting just one smile is more gratifying than I realized.


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