It Pays to Be Kind

When I was four years old and out to dinner with my grandparents at their favorite suburban Chicago club, a stranger approached our table, gave me a dollar bill and a rose and told me I was the best-behaved little girl he’d ever seen. Then he smiled at all of us, and quietly left the restaurant with his wife. My grandparents had no idea who he was or where he had gotten the rose—the restaurant didn’t have flowers on the tables—and we never saw him again.

I am sure my grandparents were grateful to him, because from then on, I was always on my absolute best behavior in restaurants, just in case the guy with the money and the flowers showed up again.

But more importantly, I have been forever grateful to him. For his insight into a little girl who was actually kind of bored by her grandparents’ stuffy country club dining experience, but determined to be “grownup” and not show it. For the unexpected grace and beauty of the moment. For the spontaneous kindness of his act, which has remained vivid in my memory for over forty years now.

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