I left the restaurant manager in tears…and saved a dollar.
Neither of these was my intention. They were both unexpected results.
I was in a particularly bad mood when I arrived at the restaurant. It was late. I was hungry. I knew what I wanted and I wanted it now.
I stood with my arms crossed and an obvious look of annoyance on my face. I was the only person in line and yet I was asked to wait.
Shift gears with me. This story isn’t going where you probably thought it was.
I was asked to wait because the person in front of me hadn’t paid yet. She was an employee there.
I looked over as they called to her, themselves annoyed somewhat at having to make me wait for her. She was holding a newborn in one arm and her tray in the other. She was in uniform and my best guess is that she immigrated here within the past five years, not having been born into the privileges which I take for granted every day.
In an instant, I no longer saw the source of my inconvenience. I saw a fellow human being. My hunger subsided. My impatience vanished at the sight of the baby and her struggling mother.
I asked the manager, who was serving as a cashier while training a new hire, to add her meal to my order. I hope that as long as I have breath on earth, that I never forget the look on her face when I said this.
Perhaps it is a literary fantasy to think that the look on her face showed me that I had somehow restored her faith in humanity. Perhaps that is an extreme reach and perhaps my own hubris makes me want to think that. But that is how it looked to me in that moment.
Shock. Followed by tears. Followed by a smile that said, “The world isn’t such a bad place after all.”
“That,” she struggled to say. “That…that is so…” Tears and a runny nose interrupted her words. “Nice,” she finished.
I ordered my meal. The normal cost is $8-something with tax. But the screen only said $7.13. I still have the 87 cents sitting on my desk.
I asked her if she remembered to add her order…and my drink. She had. She had given me the employee’s discount. I had saved a dollar.
Perhaps my “reward” ruins the story. Perhaps the fact that I saved a dollar makes me more likely to do a similar thing in the future, for the wrong reasons.
I hope not.
But this story isn’t about me. This story is about the humanity that all of us possess. This story is about the heart that beats in every one of us when we allow it to be uncaged.
Life with a caged heart is limited to our self-centered, narrow world. It leads to a life without meaning or purpose. It’s like a straight-jacket on our feelings and passion.
An uncaged heart has no limits.
This world needs leaders with uncaged hearts.
Children need fathers with uncaged hearts.
Students need teachers with uncaged hearts.
You need someone to uncage their heart. Your boss, your spouse, your father, your best friend.
Maybe it’s you that needs to let your heart be uncaged.
Maybe it’s me.
How have you caged your heart? What has that stopped you from doing?