How One Kind Gesture Changed My Attitude

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.*

I woke up late, after not enough sleep (turns out when you're pregnant, you have to pee, like, ALL.THE.TIME. especially late at night) and rushed to my doctor's appointment. Everything checked out fine, but on the way to work, I felt myself crumbling under the weight of some anxiety and fears on my mind recently, which left me in tears and on the phone with my mom. Behind on work, I tried to get my emotions in check for a couple of meetings on my calendar.

At lunchtime, I opened the mail to discover the second healthcare bill this month (!) for a few hundred dollars. I tried to look up the bill online using my web account, but the system kept shutting me out on account of "invalid information." I spent the next 30 minutes on the phone with the insurance company, the clinic, and the billing office at the hospital, trying to figure out the exact details of the charges and coverage. Then I got a call from my car insurance company, who informed me that crucial paperwork from an accident a couple months ago had been returned to them. Was my address correct? Yes, I said.  The rep emailed me new forms, but my name was spelled wrong for the second time (hence the previous issues with paperwork), so I had to call back to let them know. The rep sent over a third set of forms, and my name was mispelled again ughhhh, so I had to call back a third time (in one day!) to get it sort outed.

I hit up a favorite yoga class after work, only to feel frustrated the entire time about all the things I *couldn't* do in class. I miss handstands! I miss working hard! I miss side crow! My brain chirped. I took a lot of big breaths in class, but couldn't seem to shake myself out of a deep rut of emotion, mostly negative.

By the time class concluded, I was over it, and headed to a favorite take-out spot for dinner to go. I placed my order, and distracted, fiddled with my phone while waiting. A few minutes later, I realized I had . . . ordered the wrong thing.

Like, something on the menu that I never order. Immediately I felt stupid -- uh, the menu is right in front of you -- and mad -- I mean, all I wanted after a long, emotional day was a favorite meal and now I was going to have to eat this other random dish that I didn't even like. And it was my fault. Dumb.

I ventured up to the counter and said with a sigh: "Hi. I accidentally ordered the wrong meal. Could I place a second order, please?"

And the guy behind the counter, without blinking or hesitating, said: "No worries, it's on us. What did you mean to order?"

He then asked the cook to throw on the new order, learned my name, asked if I needed anything else, shrugged off my attempts to pay for the second meal, bagged up both meals with a friendly smile, and told me to have a nice night.**

Friends. This gesture was so small, and so kind, and it completely turned my evening around. Instead of going home feeling sorry for myself, I left a little lighter. He didn't have to do anything nice for me at all, especially because the order mix-up was my own fault, but his actions reminded me how far a smile and a nice gesture can go. He also had no clue about my terrible, frustrating day, which inspired me to conjure more compassion for other people during my daily interactions going forward. You simply never know the mundane and serious crap people are dealing with on an on-going basis in their lives, and a small moment of kindness can serve as a bright moment at any point.

*Being dramatic, of course, with my #firstworldproblems.

**Also: if all customer service experiences could be like this one, that would be amazing. Just sayin.'