Gift Card #4: Natalie

Trip Start Aug 21, 2010
Trip End Dec 31, 2010

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Flag of United States  , New York
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Last night we decided that chain restaurant food sounded good for dinner.  We picked Chili's.  We arrived, were seated, and, as we had just spent several hours driving, we took turns using the facilites right away.  I only give you this information to explain why I was alone at the table when I overheard the conversation to my right between and waitress and customer. 

"I just had the worst day ever," I heard the customer say as she order a martini.  *lightbulb!*

When Mike returned, we ordered our food, then I asked him to run to the van and grab a Chili's gift card.  While he was gone, the waitress brought back the customer's check.  She then dug in her purse to find correct change.  Worried that she'd pay and leave before Mike got back, I started to pray that she wouldn't have enough money on her.  Well, she had the cash, but it did take her a long time to find it.  Mike came in with the card just as the waitress came back to say, "Do you need change?"

I stepped in right then, putting my card on the table and my left hand on the woman's shoulder.  "I heard you had a bad day and I hoped you'd let me make it better with this." 

She's from Long Island (therefore not usd to strangers' kindness as we have experienced) so I guess she didn't know what else to say, "I don't have anything for you!"

"That's not the point," I said. "So tell me about your day, rough time at work?" I asked as I sat across from her.

"Oh, no, if anything had happened at work it would have been the last straw..."

"My name is Kelsey, what's yours?"

"Natalie," she said and finally smiled.  Still confused and trying to figure out the situation, she asked, "are you a manager or something?"

"Nope!  Just here eatin' dinner with my husband," at this point I nodded to Mike who said hello.  "I overheard you tell your waitress that you had the worst day ever.  I just hoped we could make it a little better by covering your bill this time."

"Like a pay-it-forward kind of thing!"  She lit up at this revelation and got excited about what she might be able to do for someone else as her part of paying it forward.

I sat with her a few minutes and listened to her day's dismays.  The giftcard was just the open door to give her an ear who would listen, and, hopefully, a sense that someone in the world cares.

You see, the reason we love the gift card project is this:  God has blessed us greatly.  He gives freely to us.  He does this so we know how generously we are loved.  I believe we have the responsibility and privilege to do the same for others - give freely, bless greatly, love generously.
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