Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thank you, Zalman.

So I was at Empire Grill yesterday.

I have this strange order, where I basically get a baguette with a bunch of salad in it. It’s not on the actual menu, but they just charge me 5 bucks for it.

I ordered and was ready to pay. I only had a few dollars on me, and asked if I could pay with my card.

My arms holding my card went limp when the sweet woman who works there nodded a “no.”

I only had three dollars on me.

The friend I was with couldn’t lend me cash.

So I am standing there in line, searching through my wallet, as if cash will suddenly appear.

Before I knew it, an arm with a few dollars came jutting into the scene.

I turned around to face a Bachur with a brown yarmulke and the most sincere expression on his face.

“Here, take it.”

I froze.

No, that’s okay. I can’t take your money, really…thank you…”

I’m still hurriedly pacing through my receipts and cards.

But the Bachur insisted.

“Here. Really. It’s just a few dollars. Take it, and give the change to Tzedakah.”

“No, no, really.”

I tried to be very firm about my refusal to take his money.

But nothing would stop him.

“Please, just take it. Don’t worry about it. Just do the same for someone else someday.”

I almost melted, but still couldn’t bare the thought of taking a strangers money.

I said, “but I will worry about it. I just….can’t.”

The lady at the desk was sweet: “No problem, just pay the difference another time.”

But I didn’t want to do that either!

So, while I pretended to have hidden money in the recesses of my wallet, the Bachur kept on insisting.

He was so natural about it, like he does this for people everyday or something.

He wasn’t going to put the money back in his wallet.

His kindness was so obviously coming from the truest place.

I finally submitted.

With my cheeks probably totally flushed, I accepted the young man’s money.

I felt like a total flake.

I sat down next to my friend, totally flustered and slightly awkward.

Across the room, the Bachur sat down to eat his food.

The whole time I’m thinking, “He paid for almost half of my meal, and he’s just sitting across the room.”

It just felt funny.

But I was very moved by the whole thing.

When he was done with his food, he got up to leave.

Before I knew it, I was out of my seat chasing after him.

“Wait! Can I at least have your name?”

He gave me his name, and I thanked him again.

With one of those “no problem” waves and a cool “yea, sure, you’re welcome, don’t worry ‘bout it" - he was off.

When I was ready to leave, the woman at the cashier smiled at me and said, “That was so sweet, that boy paying for your meal…”

Clearly, she too was moved.

I’m not amazed that he offered. But what did make an impression on me was how sincere he was about it – so sincere that I felt like I was making him happy by taking his money!

It was probably the first time in my life that I felt like a stranger really wanted me to take something from them, and felt that they were genuine and serious about doing something for me. It just doesn’t happen everyday.

Something felt very good about being able to accept kindness from a so-called stranger. Deep inside, I had to find a very humble place to be able to accept the money.

Also, with this little happening came the realization that the world really goes round because of the kindness of others, no matter how seemingly small it may be.

Either way, maybe he reads this. I was so totally flustered, and – despite him so obviously not wanting my thanks – I didn’t get a chance to really tell him how thoughtful I thought it was.

It’s very possible that I will never see him again, let alone be given the opportunity to repay him.

But I am definitely more inspired to do more of what they call "random acts of kindness."

Thank you, Zalman.

22 comments:

rochel said...

it's nice when ppl help others even when they dont know who they are. Espeacially a boy helping a girl instead of tittering ect.
dont mean to discriminate.....

these stuff r relly toouching. this is atrue example of "helping (loving) a jew even one u'v never met!"

Anonymous said...

maybe he likes you, did u get his number??

Mimi said...

Rochel: Right on. Glad you appreciate it as well...

Anonymous: There didn't seem to be any ulterior motive, which one might expect.

Yes, he's a young guy, me a young girl - but I didn't feel any obvious or above normal "flirting" element in the whole deal, and I liked that, so let's keep it out of the picture :).

[Though admitedly, it would make a good story...or movie at least. ]

Anonymous said...

Very nice but most importantly the brilliance about this is that: the point is very clear and the flow of how it was written is in a way that people can relate to it on a personal level and learn from it.

Mimi said...

Anonymous: Why, thank you...

I felt I wasn't paying much attention to the actual writing, so I'm happy you think so! I guess sometimes trying to relay the experience without focusing intensely on the writing is good every now and then...

Anonymous said...

Here there are both things first off it is written very clear but at the same time you can feel the experience of what accrued. Which in general people get affected and inspired on a deeper level when they feel the message that is being conveyed is real and that’s up to the delivery another word how real it’s being given. Without being touched up.

Anonymous said...

Mim, that is so inspiring- and you know what, "what goes around comes around."
BTW, do you have any pix/video of lighting the Menorah- that girl he called up to say the brachos and light???
Thanks

Anonymous said...

that is the most awesome thing to do, as a person who does things like that it's an amazing feel from the side of giving

thinkingrandom said...

mim
i love your stories,
and i love hearing about random acts of kindness,
They always seem to happen to the people that appreciate them
Or maybe only the people that appreciate them realize they are happening
Either way
its the times of moshiach

Pragmatician said...

nice story, I understand your reluctance in accepting.
I would have probably offered but would not have th epatience to insist as he did.

Ezzie said...

Beautiful story. :)

B2 said...

That's a great story, and I'm glad you shared it -- nice to see that kind of goodness in the world.

Chevie said...

Mimi- your blog is incredible! The Mattis concert pics are awesome. I was really impressed with this entry. How often does an altruistic act go unnoticed or not properly appreciated (especially when it is between a guy and a girl- it's so easy to write it off as flirting and not to appreciate the true nature of the deed). The vibe this entry gives off is true and simple gratitude for an act done out of genuine kindness. I am humbled by your entry.

litzo said...

pragmatician: ditto

thanks mimi for sharing your uplifting experiences with all. the mattisyahu pics really captured the night and i feel "let in" on the whole concert! i dont know where you find the time to devote yourself to this up-and-coming blog, but from all us out there, its a source of light and rope to hold onto. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Litzo put it best...


Go Mimi!!!!

Leah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Did you delete me?

Mottel said...

Another will written post from Mimi . . .
It's nice to know that there are still good people around.

THE DOM STREET said...

There are plenty of movies that have this type of story in it.

Just for discretion purposes how many Zalmans with brown Yalmuka's actually live in crown heights.

The DOM Street

Mushky said...

I love that.

Plain and simple.

So genuine, so sweet.

What I love, is how he said "just do this for someone else sometime".

That is the epitome of kindness.

Wow, thanks for sharing that Mim, I am so inspired.

Beautiful expression of the story by the way.

You, writer, you.

Lovin' it!

Milhouse said...

You know, they're not allowed to refuse a credit card, for any amount. It's a condition of their agreement with Visa and Mastercard that they must accept the card for all transactions, even for one cent, even if it means they lose money on the transaction fees. If Visa or Mastercard find out that a place refused to accept their card, the place can get in trouble, and even lose the right to accept the card at all. So you could just insist that they take it.

Itzhak Schier said...

Milhouse - that is true BUT as a merchant who pays sizeable fees myself, I keep in mind that the merchants in Crown Heights are community members with whom I and most other neighborhood residents have personal interactions. We see them at simchas or in 770 or in our small shuls, some of us are related to them, our children and their children are in the same classes etc. We have the same interests and the same Rebbe. They are not anonymous big firms like Duane Reade or Wal-Mart, or fly by night drecksters where, in the event I get any flak, I whip out my cellphone and threaten to call the Bureau of Consumer Affairs on the spot.

At least 3 of the Kingston Ave merchants are personal friends; I know their situations and if they asked me not to use cards for small amounts, which is not the case b/c I usually run up big orders with them, I would understand and I'd either pay cash or ask them to extend me credit until I see them the next time (I don't carry much cash because of killer ATM fees in my particular situation).

Our merchants are our neighbors and are providing us with vital services; I don't mind being inconvenienced slightly so that they don't have to raise prices or lose their shirts on commissions when their margins are not all that high and they at least try to hold their prices at a level most Anash, who are not particularly well off, can pay.(the high prices of groceries and meat are the fault of inefficient supply lines and not enough demand, not local merchants who for the most part are just making a decent living).

And we do not moiser on Jewish businesses, period, unless chas vesholom they were putting us in danger in some way and refused to correct the problem without intervention from the authorities.