I've had a long day, and I was excited about my yakisoba and takoyaki.
So when the small coaster pager buzzed, I hastily picked up my food. There I was with a big smile on my face—and clumsy hands, which in a matter of 60 seconds dropped the food I was imagining and drooling about minutes ago (okay I wasn't literally drooling but you know what I mean).
Frustrated, I picked up the food from the floor and dejectedly went back to the line to order again. In front of me was a woman wearing a pink shirt. She turned around and smiled at me, trying to start a conversation.
She said, "Do you work here at the mall?"
I smiled back and politely told her, "No."
"By the way, please order your food again. It's on me."
It took me a minute to understand what she was trying to say, and when I finally got what she's saying, I tried to decline once, twice, and thrice—but she wasn't having it. And so she ordered her brewed iced tea and my takoyaki. I thanked her again and again, and she smiled so warmly—as if she was the one I treated to a warm meal.
She walked away with her tea, and gave me the restaurant buzzer.
She gave me something better, though: An encouragement to continue to be kind even in a harsh and scary world. To do something good for a stranger without expecting anything in return—as if every person you meet is your brother and sister.
“If you genuinely care for others and look for ways to help others succeed, you won’t need to look for ways to boost your mood. A selfless and kind act will lift your spirit and self-worth. If you are having a bad day, see if you can find a way to help someone else. Even a small gesture of help will make you feel better.” — Haemin Sunim, The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm and Mindful in a Fast-Paced World