I have been bothered for some time at the discourse in our society. There seems to be so much anger and so much hate that sometimes it seems hopeless that we could turn a corner. Regardless of topic, negative emotions run at an all-time high, like a pressure cooker about to burst. I don't know if it has always been this way, or if I'm just seeing it now as I get older. But despair in my generation's ability to rally behind something more positive was setting quickly; at least until yesterday.
Yesterday was a very busy day with so much to get done that I completely missed lunch. I spotted a Chick-fil-a restaurant on my way back from a bureaucratic errand and decided to swing by to pick up a quick meal. The drive-through line was long and I thought it would be faster to go in, and it definitely was as I was served promptly. Nearly inhaling my sandwich I spotted a gentleman to my right with anguish clearly in his eyes. He was not eating but looking at the serving counter as you might expect from someone waiting for his name to be called to take delivery of his meal. I chalked it up to “he is having a bad day like mine”. Standing up to get rid of the trash, I could barely hear a faint voice say, “Excuse me”. I turned around and it was the same older gentleman. He was barely making any eye contact with me but asked if I could add to the change in his hand to buy a meal. I know what you are thinking - another self-serving story about a well-to-do person helping the less fortunate. But there’s more to this story than that, as what happened next surprised me as much as it will surprise you.
This was not my first handout situation. You would have to be living under a big rock not to have experienced a similar situation at some point in your life. Instead of giving money, I offered to buy him a meal. We chatted briefly about his journey from Cuba with his brother. I asked him to follow me to the serving counter. Barely making to the cashier, a young man under 20 years of age quietly approached the older gentleman with a to-go food bag in hand. Wishing him a “God bless you and best of luck”, the young man exited the restaurant without any expectations of gratitude. Almost speechless, I asked the older gentleman if his brother was with him. He responded with a quite yes. So I then offered to buy his brother a meal. Again two steps toward the cashier, a young lady, who looked to be about the age of my daughter (18), handed him a heaping bag of to-go meal. “This is for you and I hope things get better soon,” was all she said.
I don't know and don't care to know what prompted these acts of kindness. I walked out of the restaurant, a smile on my face and tear in my eye, with a renewed hope that things aren't as bad as they seem. I was looking for a miracle and completely missed the obvious. It is said that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today. The future may indeed be brighter than I thought. We just need to give our younger generation the credit they deserve.
- Maher Masri
About the Blogger:
Maher is the CEO and a founding partner for Genuitec. When Maher isn't dealing with the day-to-day running of Genuitec, he can be found biking through Texas and competing in the annual IRONMAN triathlon.