22 August, 2012

Random Acts Of Kindness

My meeting had finished its business, and the conversations had begun to revolve around travel and what remained of the summer. In Utica with its large Italian community, that usually means who's been and who's going next to Italy.

One colleague detailed his upcoming stops. In response, I suggested that while in Florence he must eat at Trattoria Omero. I shared a bit of my experience there in {this memory} 46. I hope I get the chance to return one day.

Today I'm writing about another restaurant stop, however, and a simple kindness that represented what I thought was extraordinary service.

I was in Rome with my wife and daughters in August of 1989. My girls were quite young - still in single digits age-wise, and we had been traveling for a couple of weeks. I knew everyone was tired, but my daughters were still on their best behavior. We didn't hesitate to take them to a nice restaurant.

I had read about a restaurant that had been opened by a former Alitalia flight attendant and her son in an alley not too far from our hotel and near Piazza Navona. I've gone back to try to find its location or existence with no success, but it was highly recommended then by the printed guide.

We arrived and were seated, and I could tell the owner was a bit nervous about whether my girls would be problematic. It didn't take long for her to relax though. In fact, by the time she took our drink orders, it was like we were old friends. While my wife and I were determined to enjoy a nice wine, my daughters had both requested Cokes. While they waited for them, I noticed the owner slipped out and went down the street - only to return a few moments later with a small paper bag tucked under her arm. Soon my daughters had their Cokes.

Ah - rather than say she did not have Coke, she had gone to a market to get some for my girls. As impressive as that was, however, what I remember most is what happened next.

A couple of nights later we decided to return to this small restaurant. We had really enjoyed it. We had just been seated when the owner immediately disappeared around the corner - only to return with a small bag probably containing two cans of Coke. I suppose in anticipation that Coke was what my daughters would soon request.

There are not many places where that would happen, but I dearly wish that were not the case. Random acts of kindness should be the norm. It's almost a quarter century later, and I'm still talking about it.

When was the last time you gave or received a random bit of kindness?