By Jennifer Richardson
The drive through lane of a fast food restaurant may be considered an unusual place to find generosity, which is why it is one of our favorite places to give. Through the years we have enjoyed the opportunity to quietly pay for the food for unsuspecting occupants of the car behind us in the fast food check-out line.
Since they were young, our daughters have excitedly turned to watch the expression on the next driver’s face as they experienced the momentary confusion of an unexpected gift, which usually turned to a smile of gratitude in recognition of this small act of kindness.
Not long ago, I was at the drive through window rummaging through my wallet and asking the very helpful employee how much the order was for the vehicle behind me so I could offer to pay for their meal. She kindly told me the amount, and we struck up a brief conversation. She recognized my car and asked me, had I come through last week to do this very thing? I said yes, and that I like for my children to see the opportunity for kindness and giving. And she said she had something to share with me.
I looked up from my endless search through my handbag and listened to what she had to say. She said when we had come through last time and had paid for the car behind us, the recipient of the kindness had been truly touched by the generosity and mentioned that she would like to pay for the car behind her.
The attendant smiled at this and was happy to tell the next driver the good news. When the second recipient arrived at the window and was told their meal was paid for, they, in turn, paid for the next person in line. To her continued surprise the next person paid for the car behind them. She was happy to tell me that, in all, five drivers in a row took the time to appreciate the kindness and pay for the meal of the person behind them in line.
I thanked her for sharing the story with me and as I drove forward to pick up our food, I was humbled and overjoyed to think about the chain of giving that was strengthened by a small act of kindness. I knew in that moment that kindness is not an isolated event; it is connected to other sources of kindness by imperceptible threads.
As we travel through life it is easy to believe that acts of kindness are simply absorbed unnoticed into a world that is losing its ability to place a value on consideration for others. But kindness inspires kindness, even if it is barely visible in the moment it is offered.
Each quiet strand of kindness connects with another as a strong framework is created. When we keep the threads of kindness moving toward each other, this patchwork frame fills in to become a strong cloth. This fabric unites us, offers us warmth, protects us when we are vulnerable, and brings vibrant color to our lives. We are truly blessed when we catch a glimpse of how many pieces of fabric are woven together to create a beautiful tapestry that tells the story of how kindness softens the hard edges of life.
In that brief moment in the drive through line I was honored to have been holding a thread that connected my life with the lives of others, and we stitched more beauty together than any one of us would have produced alone. Even in the fast-food line, kindness is the recognition that our humanity can be knit together by a common thread.