A Slice of Life

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 6:00 am

By Kim Harshberger

I am not a cheery person. No one ever calls me sunshine. (Well, that’s not true. A salesman did. Once.) I don’t look on the bright side. I don’t give greeting cards with my presents. I don’t volunteer. I don’t have a community, or even many friends. I am terrible about asking for help or assistance from anybody for anything. And I don’t usually give people much credit. Generally, I keep to myself and I take care of my family.

If you have read my previous posts you know I have made many changes to my family’s diet in the past year. Because of this, I spend A LOT more money on groceries each month. In order to make this change, we had to drastically cut back on eating out, which was very hard for my husband and I. Eating out is a source of entertainment for us, and something we really enjoy.

But every once in a while, we splurge and eat out. Usually we get sushi, but this one night we decided to go out for pizza, and I’m not talking gluten-free here folks. Gasp! So, you can see, this was a big deal for us.

We gathered our girls, who begged to wear dresses, “clicky” shoes, and lip gloss. The whole nine yards. I’m not even sure I showered that day, but they more than made up for their mama’s lack of “fanciness.” We drove to downtown Coeur d’Alene to our favorite pizza place.

Big sis had brought her diary to write in. Yes, a diary. Can you imagine the musings of a 7-year-old? If not, let me give you a taste, “Why is my sister so mean? I love my sister. I’m so excited to have pizza even if it has gluten. I know, right?!” Deep stuff people. Little sis had brought some of her B.O.B. books to peruse, while we waited for our food.

So this is all to say, that I can see how we might have looked like the quintessential, happy, little family. And maybe that’s what did it. Or, maybe the husband and I were showing our wear or tear? Or maybe my face still showed the stress I felt about breaking our dietary rules? Or maybe it had nothing to do with us at all?

But what happened next will forever be imprinted in my mind, and dare I say, may have even changed me (a little bit).

We were all happily munching away on our pizza, sipping on water (drinks were not in the budget) when one of the other waitresses passed by our table, slipped a napkin under my nose, and said “Your meal has been taken care of.”

 A Slice of Life | Kim writes about how her family's dinner was paid for by a stranger.

I read it. I read it again. My gluten-hazed brain was slow to comprehend. Then it sank in. Those goodwill stories I had seen, read, and sometimes even scoffed at had just happened to us. US! My eyes began to tear up, my throat tightened. I would not, could NOT lose it in public. My girls starred aghast, probably wondering if I was having some sort of reaction to the gluten. I explained what happened and they were impressed, and a little baffled, but quickly moved on. Then our waitress came by because she heard what happened. As a mother of two herself, she had the same reaction as I did and couldn’t even finish reading the note.

The gesture made an impression on me. In a big way. Now, I am looking and waiting for my chance to pay it forward.

Kim Harshberger

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