A few weeks ago, for my mom’s birthday, she invited my son, Noah, and I to go see the play “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” with her. It was showing at the local community college and we assumed that we could just show up to buy our tickets the night of the show.
Well, we were wrong about that one. When we got there it was sold out, and the lobby was overflowing with groups of people, like us, who’d not planned ahead. We decided to put our names down on the waiting list just in case someone who’d purchased tickets didn’t show up to use their seats.
After waiting around for a half an hour it was finally time for the show to begin and the women at the ticket booth started calling out names from the waiting list. When our name was called we went up to buy our tickets. It turned out that we wouldn’t be able to sit together, but Noah said he didn’t mind sitting next to strangers.
Just as I was writing out a check for the tickets a man came to pick up the tickets he’d purchased earlier. “Sorry,” the woman told him, “You have to be here before the show starts. As soon as it begins we start selling tickets to the people on the waiting list.” She was not in a charitable mood and reminded him curtly that it was “the policy”.
I think we can all agree that it’s a stupid policy.
So basically I was standing there with my wallet open writing a check for the tickets that this man had already purchased (and wouldn’t get a refund for might I add). Needless to say, we let the man take our tickets (really his tickets) and we left.
It seems like a sad ending to my mom’s birthday, but we’d forgotten about the new birthday tradition she’d started the year before. The tradition is this: give a gift to someone else on your birthday. My mom already has everything she could want or need, so for a birthday gift to herself she decided to buy a gift certificate to give away to a deserving person.
Of course there are a million places we could have gone. Once you start thinking about handing out gifts to strangers your mind goes a little wild thinking of all the possibilities. But we ended up choosing the grocery store. We both shop there and could think of a few very kind cashiers who would definitely deserve a gift.
Armed with a gift certificate from the Olive Garden we made our way through the line. My mom paid for the gift card and then handed it over to a very befuddled cashier who came out from behind the counter to give us all a hug.
Yesterday at the store I happened to choose this same cashier and I was surprised that she recognized me from that night. It turns out that it had been her lucky night that night. Not only had we given her the gift certificate, but another woman had come through her line and had gotten her a coffee from Starbucks.
Why don’t I do that? I asked myself. It doesn’t have to be something huge. A cup of coffee, I can do that, just a little something nice to brighten someone’s day. So starting today I’m going to try to find a random person each week to do something nice for.
Hmm, who am I going to pick first?