Yesterday, I travelled north to share lunch with my dad and his lady friend. It was our first time together since I gave him the gift — of a gift — at Christmas. It was a stack of six envelopes, containing either five or ten dollar bills. Each envelope was inscribed with the words, A Little Something Extra.
Along with the money, the interior of each envelope had a note that read:
Thanks for taking care of my Dad today.
My dad and his friend enjoy meals at restaurants regularly. I told him he should give envelopes to waiters or waitresses that he enjoyed. (Translation: They played along — with his jokes.)
When I gave my dad the gift at Christmas, I wasn’t quite certain how he felt about it. I explained I wanted to pay forward the gifts he has given me, by allowing him to share a spontaneous gift with a stranger. He’s eighty. He understood, but like I said, his reaction was non-committal.
I decided on Christmas that I would never ask him about the gift, but would hope he might share a story or two one day.
Yesterday, my wish came true. When it was time to pay the bill, my dad’s friend picked up the check and said, “I’ve got it.”
I replied, “I’d like to at least leave the tip, but I do not have any cash. Can I pay the bill with my card?”
“No, I’ve got it all,” she said. She conspiratorially looked at my dad and asked, “Can we use the last?”
In her hand she had one of the six envelopes. She said, “We’ve had so much fun with these! I told your dad we should just start doing it on our own.”
My dad chimed in with, “We gave one to Mike at The Waterfront. He works behind the bar. When he opened it and found the ten, he asked if I was really sure I wanted to give him that much. I told him it wasn’t up to me. I told him that it was a gift from my daughter — for taking care of me. He just grinned and stuffed it in his pocket.”
In my head — I was cheering. This was exactly what I had hoped for!
My dad carried on with, “Lany — from the Village Kitchen — she came over after opening the envelope and gave me a big hug.”
They went on to tell me the details of the other three envelope recipients — not quite as memorable, but appreciative all the same.
Unfortunately, the waitress from our meal yesterday did not make any acknowledgment of the gift — of a gift. It is my hope that she paid it forward somehow, even if only through great service to the rest of her tables.
I love the concept of paying it forward.
I think the gift — of a gift, might be my new modus operandi.