celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘tip

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When you tell someone you spent the morning running amok, you are sure to receive some odd looks. After all, who announces their seemingly uncontrollable behavior with such joy? This is when I wish little speech bubbles would appear above our heads when we talk, so people can see that I’m referencing #AMOK, the Annual Melee of Kindness. This annual event, sponsored by RandomActs, is a global flash mob of sorts; people all across the world complete random acts of kindness for two designated days and share their stories with others. (Go ahead. Search the hashtag #AMOK on Twitter and see all the awesome ways people are being kind!)

This morning, in less time it takes for me to vacuum my house, I completed 6 RAKs for #AMOK. It was so much fun! Here are the things I did:

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1.  I went to Starbucks to purchase a few gift cards. While in the drive through waiting to reach the cashier, a small feather floated across my windshield (very Forrest Gump-like.) I watched it, mesmerized, as it skimmed the slight breeze, flitting right, then left, then right again, to finally rest inside my side door window.

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Now you may not believe in signs from above, and that’s fine, but for me, this was like a smile from heaven to start my RAKs #AMOK! When I finally made it to the cashier to purchase my gift cards, I bought the drink of the person in the car behind me and passed along this note:

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2. My next stop was to purchase three lottery tickets from a local convenience store. Then I went to Kroger to see who deserved a chance of hitting it big.

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The first car I saw was parked diagonally from me. You could tell from the door that the person had been in an accident and had their car fixed with spare parts. I thought they might deserve a chance at some better luck, so I placed my note with one lottery ticket under their windshield wiper.

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The next car that caught my eye had a personalized plate focused on children. That made me smile, so I left them a lottery ticket, too.

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My third lottery ticket went to a van parked in the special parking place reserved for adults with small children. I remember the times I’ve had to go grocery shopping with little ones in tow and it is never a relaxing task. I thought maybe a lottery ticket on their dash might brighten their day, too.

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3.  With a pocketful of quarters, I made my way into Kroger. I stocked the bottom row of candy and toy dispensers to surprise any children who may be shopping with their parents that day.

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Did you know that some of the bottom row dispensers cost MORE than the ones right beside them? ME NEITHER! How frustrating for a child OR parent to have to understand that logic! I went ahead and added a few more quarters so no one would be disappointed.

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4.  I left money on a Redbox machine to pay for someone’s movie for the day. I even hid it behind the screen so there would be an element of surprise! (I love surprises!)

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5.  Who can resist Girl Scout cookies? Often, when I’m entering or exiting a store, I’m consumed by an overwhelming sense of guilt because these sweet girls are trying to raise money for their troop, but we’ve already bought cookies from our niece. (Heaven knows we do NOT need any more cookies in this house!) Today, however, I went right up to the table, money in hand, and asked if I could by a box to donate to someone else. Thankfully, they were prepared for my request with a box already designated for donations to the Hanover Safe Place. I let the Girl Scout choose her favorite box (Samoas!) to donate on behalf of #AMOK.

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(Yes, her mom gave verbal permission for me to post these photos!)

6.  My final random act of kindness was done as I was heading back to my car. I saw one of the Kroger workers gathering all the shopping carts to return to the store. I recognized him instantly (I shop at Kroger a lot), and approached him with a smile. “Hi,” I began, as he turned his head in my direction. “I know you never ask for tips and this is just part of your job, but I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you do. You remind me a lot of Mr. Leon who used to work here; I’m sure he would be proud of all you do to help others.” With that, I placed $5.00 in his hand as the smile spread across his face. “Thank you ma’am,” he replied, as I quickly turned and walked to my car.



My morning RAKs were quick little sprinklings of kindness here and there; nothing outrageous or grand, but small reminders to others that there is still good in this world. Imagine how wonderful this world would be if EVERYONE ran #AMOK with kindness!

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My best friend and I have birthdays only 10 days apart.  We have often joked over the course of our 20+ year friendship that our birthday season begins in September and ends in August the following year… because some years it takes us that long to carve out time to get together and celebrate!  (Seriously!)  This year as we were ticking off the busy weekends on our calendars, we realized there was one night where both of us had no plans.  NO PLANS?!  Really?!  How could this be?  Without stressing over logistics (Who would watch the children?), we quickly made the decision to meet halfway between her house and mine and spend the evening together.

Being October, we were delighted to discover that Busch Gardens amusement park was still open on Friday nights for their Howl-o-Scream festivities.  Although we weren’t all that interested in getting spooked by creepy people, we were very excited to finally, for the first time ever, ride a roller coaster together!  We entered the park, purchased a glow-in-the-dark beverage, and made our way to Busch Garden’s newest roller coaster, the Verbolten, talking non-stop the entire way.

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The lines were relatively short, so we were strapped into the coaster in no time.  Here are some more pics of our adventure!

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The Verbolten sign

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Strapped in, getting ready to start the ride

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Finishing the final hill

What a fun night!  We rode more roller coasters, laughing and screaming the entire time.  (You would have thought we were teenagers the way we were carrying on!  Ha!)  When the park made their closing announcements at 10pm, we reluctantly made our way back to the parking lot, not quite ready for our evening of birthday celebrations to end.   Suddenly hungry, we decided to continue our evening of catching up with some breakfast dinner at a local iHOP.

As we entered the restaurant, we were surprised to see the place was packed with teenagers!  Oh my! Luckily, we still had gifts to exchange and lots of conversation to share so the delay in being served wasn’t a huge issue for us.

As we sat down and scanned the menu, my attention was swayed to to HUGE cup of salted caramel hot chocolate shown on the bottom of the front page.  The cup was massive and I could almost taste the delicate mixture of salt, caramel, and chocolate melting on my tongue.  Unfortunately, it had a price to match its girth, so I was torn about whether or not to order the drink.  As I was debating the pros and cons with Lisa, the waitress arrived to take our orders.  After introducing herself as Jeannie, pointing to the plastic name badge on her shirt, she pointed to my menu.  “Oh honey,” she drawled with a southern flair, “That drink right there is worth every single sip.  It is the best drink we have to serve!”  Well, who could resist a recommendation like that?

I ordered the specialty hot chocolate and Lisa ordered a regular coffee.  We chatted back and forth as we continued to interact with our waitress who checked on us often.  “Whose birthday is it?” Jeannie asked, pointing at our brightly colored gift bags.  We told her we were celebrating both our special days and she clapped her hands together, beaming with excitement.  “I just love birthdays!  Open your gift!  What did you get?”  We had to laugh at her enthusiasm – it was as if she was celebrating her own birthday right in the mix of ours.

A little while later she arrived with the colossal cup of steaming hot chocolate and we made a production of taking photos to document all the fun:

photo 1Me (looking a bit windblown from all the roller coasters) with our iHOP waitress and THE CUP

photo 2Pure heaven!

photo 3Oh So Good!

photo 4Even Lisa got in on the photo fun!

Two hours later (I am not kidding!), Lisa and I were still enjoying our time together with Jeannie checking on us and sharing in our conversation.  That’s when it hit me.  Here is this lady, working the night shift as a waitress at an iHOP on a Friday night, with mostly teenagers as customers (who by now had left the restaurant leaving behind minimal tips, I’m sure.)  What was her story? Why was she working here?  Did the night shift pay more than the day shift?  I didn’t want to pry, but I felt like I needed to bless this gal who made the end of our birthday celebration so memorable and joyful.  Reaching into my purse, I discovered some mad money birthday cash I had received as a gift and knew I would receive greater happiness by paying it forward instead of using it for myself.

I quickly jotted a note on the back of the receipt and left it with a ten dollar tip on the table.  Surely that would brighten the darkness of her night shift!

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We quickly left our tip, paid our bill, and said our final goodbyes before the long drive home.  It was a wonderful way to end our evening of friendship and fun!

This random act of kindness is dedicated to Josephine Gay, age 7, a darling little girl who was found in the arms of her behavioral therapist, Rachel D’Avino, following the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Joesephine had a nervous system disorder and could not speak, but she had learned how to share her thoughts with those around her through signs and smiles.  She was the joy of her parents, despite the challenges of her condition.   It was humbling to realize what a gift I had been given during my time with Lisa – an entire evening filled with so many words, so many stories, all taken for granted.  Humbling, indeed.

Keep pressing forward, my friends.  Be kind to others.  Stop and listen to their stories.  Join in the fun and allow yourself to be blessed in the process!

My 10th Random Act of Kindness was 50% planned kindness, 50% divine intervention.  I had planned a surprise lunch with two of my dear friends, Lisa and Nicole, but due to other obligations, our time together was quite limited.  We drove around, searching for a restaurant, and finally settled on Applebee’s as the clock continued to count down our time.

Upon entering the restaurant, we realized the odds were against us for a quick meal.  Several booths were full (it was the lunch hour, after all), and we could only see one waitress scampering around trying to meet all the needs.  In fact, after we were seated, it took several minutes just to have someone tell us who our server would be.

The gal who approached our table was not the waitress, perhaps she was a manager, I’m not really quite sure.  All I remember was her bright purple blouse and her smile.  I explained (as courteously as I could) that we were on a tight schedule and needed a quick meal.  “Would it be possible for us to order everything now, including dessert?”  I didn’t want the special time I had with my friends to be overshadowed by the stress of time constraints and undelivered food.

The gal explained that she was not our waitress, but understanding our dilemma, she offered to take our order until our waitress could come to our table.  Needless to say, we never saw our assigned waitress.  Ever.  The gal in the purple blouse returned with our drinks and our dessert (Backwards lunch!  Fun!) and through the course of our meal she returned again and again to serve our food, refill our drinks, take additional orders, and simply check on us.  She was friendly and kind and her joy was a perfect compliment to our meal.

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As we finished our meal, the gal returned with three separate checks.  Without hesitation, I grabbed the checks, preparing to treat my friends to lunch as my next RAK.  As I sat there counting out the bills, I had an overwhelming urge to bless our server.  She was not supposed to be our waitress; she merely seated us.  It was her choice to stay as our surrogate waitress.  Not only did she serve our meal, but she blessed us by listening to our needs and doing everything in her power to provide the quality time we needed.

And with that spirit, I reached into my birthday bag and counted out $10.

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coffee money

Yes, folks, I left our server a $10 tip.  I shoved it in an extra bank envelope I had in my purse and wrote a note on the back, thanking her for her diligence and hard work.  She returned to our table before I could finish the note (and take a picture), so I just handed her the bank envelope and simply said, “This is for you.  Thank you so much for EVERYTHING!”

I have come to realize that time spent with friends is priceless.  To have a stranger recognize the importance of that time only adds to the joy!  To return the blessing in an unexpected tip was the least I could do.

This 10th RAK is dedicated to Victoria Soto, age 27, a first grade teacher who taught her students in Classroom 10.  According to a parent whose student was in her class, Victoria “was a vibrant woman who loved the kids.”  She was a hero in every sense of the word as she tried to protect her students, even standing between them and the gunman, allowing some children the opportunity to flee.  With bright blue eyes and a sparkling smile, it is easy to see how her love for children would shine through.

I encourage you today with two challenges:  Take the time to recognize kindness in an unexpected place.  Then make a difference.

Be blessed, dear friends, and thanks for taking the time to read!  I am blessed to have you as a follower!

Last night, my team and I went out to dinner before presenting an an out-of-state conference. After driving for over five hours, we were starving!

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We had a very large group joining us (22 people in all!) so we had low expectations for efficient service. (When was the last time you went out to dinner with 22 people wanting to be seated together?)

I am happy to report that our dining experience was amazing! Our waitress, Ashley, was phenomenal. She cheerfully explained the specials and didn’t bat an eye when we sheepishly changed our orders. Drinks were refilled without asking and appetizers and meals were served hot and in a timely manner. Not a single error was made in our orders! It was a miracle!

We chatted with her towards the end of our meal and complimented her on the delightful service and accuracy in the orders. “Well, when I give the cooks your order, I only write up six orders on a page. This makes it easier for them and fewer mistakes are made.”

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Because of Ashley’s impeccable service to all the conference presenters, we were able to enjoy our time together networking instead of being frustrated or inconvenienced. I really wanted to do something for our waitress to show my appreciation for a job well done, so I reached into my bag, jotted a personal note on the back of my business card and added it to a $5 Starbucks gift card.

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I handed the card to Ashley as we departed from the restaurant, thanking her for all her work. I wished I had more gift cards, because I would have loved to have treated HER to a dinner she could enjoy!

The next time you are eating out, take a moment to not only enjoy your meal, but thank your waiter or waitress. While serving you is part of their job, to know their service is appreciated validates all they do!


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