Puttin’ on the Gritz
A Random Act of Kindness
By Cappy Hall Rearick
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ~Plato
My Monday began with no coffee. Things couldn’t be worse than that, so I hightailed it to a Quick Stop before my curling iron had time to heat up. Breathing a grateful sigh to the Columbian coffee bean growers, I rebooted my out-of-sync morning.
Mondays, especially those that begin without the beneficial components of caffeine, have a nasty habit of deteriorating before my Rice Krispies have a chance to snap, crackle or pop. In addition to Mr. Coffee going on strike, I was attacked by an out of control washing machine that was determined to turn my kitchen into Lake Erie and a dinette chair that imploded the minute I sat down on it. But the coup de gras turned out to be the biggest, fattest ground hog this side of the Mason-Dixon Line who took up residence underneath my house by gnawing a hole in the back porch steps.
By noon, having been forced to agree to pay a plumber triple because he whined about abandoning his sick, aged mother in the hospital, I was exhausted and disgusted. I had a fanatical desire to bring charges against Animal Control for allowing rodents to freely roam North Carolina residential streets. To make matters worse, I was hungry enough to bolt down the ground hog’s leftover wood shavings.
It should be noted here that I’m a newcomer to the Hendersonville, North Carolina area, having recently bought a second home in them thar Saluda hills. Still getting around the old fashioned ways (sans GPS) means that I too often don’t know where I’m going. I drove manically down an unfamiliar street in search of fast food while salivating in unladylike fashion.
Woo Hoo! I spied a FATZ Restaurant buried in a shopping center and whipped my little car into the parking lot. Having eaten there once before, I knew the food was good and best of all, reasonable.
Pulling Fatz’s front door open, I was greeted in warm, Southern style by a hostess who quickly found a large, comfortable booth for me. Within seconds, a server was at my side asking what I wanted to drink.
“Just water, please.”
He smiled and said, “You look like a woman who likes lemon in your H-2-0.” And he was gone before I could ask him if he was psychic.
When he returned I ordered Fish & Chips which he assured me was an excellent choice. I already knew that, but I was glad he agreed.
While waiting for my food, I brought out my “To do” list and added a few more chores that had earlier escaped my rattled brain, and then about that time is when I happened to overhear a conversation in the booth next to mine.
Two women were consoling another who was obviously having man troubles, reminding me of the old saying, “If it has tires or testicles, it’s going to give you problems.” The woman’s voice broke from time to time and occasionally she even stopped talking long enough to wipe away her tears.
It was then that my server, the man with innate lemon/water knowledge, walked up to their table with gooey dessert in his hand.
One of the women said, “We didn’t order that.”
He looked at the troubled one and smiled. “They say chocolate is a great healer and will do wonders for any situation. Maybe this will make you feel special today, and I hope the rest of the week will be better too.”
He scooted off to bring two more forks so that her friends might share a little more than just her sorrow.
It had not been my intention to eavesdrop on a painful and private conversation, but I am, after all, a columnist. Eavesdropping in restaurants is what I do. As I continued to listen while trying to appear like I wasn’t listening, I learned that the server and the three women were not even acquainted. Russ Wooten saw an opportunity to be kind to someone who needed it, and I don’t for a minute believe he did so hoping for a big tip. I think he did it because his mama raised him right.
My day was made brighter by that small act of kindness and it got even better. When my meal arrived, it turned out to be the best Fish & Chips I ever tasted.