The day before yesterday, a total stranger gave me chocolate to cheer me up. I love that this man was so caring, even though he did not know anything about why I was feeling blue and had tears in my eyes. He just did something kind for a stranger because he was good. Here’s how it happened:
I had spent almost the entire night before in terrible, violent nightmares, and the last few hours of that night were spent fighting yet another migraine headache. So with this auspicious start to my day, I finally got up when my husband asked me to get up and get dressed so we could go out. It was payday. We get paid once a month, on the first. Hubby was acting a little weird, I thought, either that or my natural empathy was at work.
Hubby wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, insisting that he didn’t want to talk about it until he had something to eat. He was acting angry and very stressed. I offered to cook, but he wanted to go out. I began feeling incredibly apprehensive and I knew that my bi-polar disorder and anxiety complex were beginning to take hold of me. When we got to the car, on a windy, icy cold morning, we recalled that several of our tires seemed low on air the previous night and that we had agreed to check the tires and inflate as needed first thing in the morning.
So we stopped at the PDQ nearest our house and Hubby got out to check the tires only to discover that somehow, the center pin of the valve had been somehow torn out. He was so angry by this time, he got back in the car and was clearly furious. Hubby had been struggling with the problems at hand for quite some time and had pretty much reached his limit for things going wrong, too. After a few minutes, we decided to go get food and try to “reset” our moods before worrying about the tires.
We went to one of our most comfortable, delicious favorite places, Einstein’s Bagels on East Washington Avenue, here in East Madison. By now though, my PTSD, Bi-polar and anxiety disorders had all reached panic mode because hubby would not tell me what was wrong and all the worst scenarios were going around and around in my head. I was angry about not knowing what the heck was going on, and now, I was having a panic attack, one symptom of which is that I cannot stop crying. I made it through the line to place my order though.
I went and sat at a table waiting for our order, barely holding my self in check. When my order came to the table and I thought it was wrong, I told the waitress it was wrong and asked her to fix it. The waitress pointed toward the counter referring me to the manager, who happened to be the one making the sandwiches at that time.
I handed my sandwich to the manager and told him what was wrong. He said no, it was right but how did I want it changed? I told him to fix it and charge me if necessary. I am afraid that I must have sounded rude or at least very short tempered. After I went back to my table I realized how I must have come off so I immediately went back to the counter and asked the manager to forgive me if I seemed rude, that I was having a bad day. He told me it was OK, and his understanding started me crying all over again, as kindness sometimes does, and I had to turn away and flee back to my table to try and control my tears.
The manager delivered my food and was very gracious about it and did not charge me. After he left, Hubby and I spoke (at last) about what was wrong, which, while bad, was not the crisis-strength type of an emergency I had feared. As we worked together to find ways to deal with it, (and after I took some medicine designed to help) I was finally able to at least un-clench my teeth and begin the process of calming down. PTSD and anxiety are tough to deal with – more so for me when in public. (If you would like to learn more about PTSD there is helpful information here.)
I had still not been able to stop crying because of my damned traitorous depression and panic. As we sat there, with me drying my eyes every once in a while and my food sitting on the table getting cold, I wished that I could turn the tears off and not feel so humiliated out in public.
Just as I was wishing that, I was surprised to find that the manager had materialized right beside me, a plate with two small chocolate pastries in his hand. He put it on the table looked into my eyes and patted me on the shoulder, and said with a gentle smile, “Chocolate makes everything better”. I took his hand and thanked him, and after giving Hubby a sympathetic nod, he went back to work.
I was so touched (and surprised!) that I was able to get a grip on myself, and start sipping my drink a little and, a tiny bit at a time, I began to nibble on one of the chocolate pastries. And you know what? He was right – it did make me feel better, but it was not the pastries (although they really are wonderful) – it was the simple warmth of human kindness, of one person extending comfort to another for no other reason than to be kind.
This is something I learned from the great people at Penzeys Spices, Bill Penzey in particular. More and more, I am beginning to see this trend grow. Good can overcome sadness and kindness can change lives. Those principles sure worked for me on this day! I finished my food, and Hubby finished his, and we talked things through and things began to get back to normal, but I know lot of our recovery was due to one good hearted “bagel man” and the way he helped put things back into perspective on a particularly bad day. Thank you, Sir, for your kindness!
Loyal customer and now admiring friend,