I’m kind of excited about tomorrow morning (Wed). You see, I usually drive through a McDonald’s in Manassas on my way to work in Fairfax. I always pick up a large unsweetened iced tea and sometimes a breakfast sandwich. You know the routine – ease in and respond to the talking brown box, move forward to the pay window with a few dollars, and then idle on up to the pick-up window. I’m not too interested in the brown box or the pay window. It’s the pick-up window that I am anxious about on Wed morning.
It’s not really the window I’m interested in but the lady who works in the window that I am interested in, you see. She has been giving me my tea for I don’t know how many years now. She always says, “Good morning, sir – Here you go – Thank you.” Every time. Every day. And always with a gentle and kind smile. Never too hurried or rushed. Sometimes she will check her monitor to make sure that she is correctly giving me what I have ordered. Only rarely will she say anything different to me. Sometimes I might comment about the heat or the cold or something like that – she will smile and perhaps snigger. She is middle age – 40 or 50 maybe. Nondescript.
Sometimes I will drive up to her window and she is laughing or talking animatedly with her co-workers in the back about something – she is a Spanish speaker. Whatever it is that she is talking about seems to be pretty important, sometimes. But she will stop and say, “Good morning, sir – Here you go – Thank you.”
I have always hoped to see her in her window. I like seeing her. I like listening to her. She is friendly, I think, and she gives me a tiny boost each day. On the rare day when she isn’t in her window, I take notice and am disappointed. When she isn’t at her window, I actually peer a bit inside of her window to see if maybe she is standing further inside doing some other work. It isn’t good when she isn’t at her window.
Tomorrow will be my last day, probably, to make my morning stop at this particular McDonald’s. To get my unsweetened iced tea from the lady in her window. After tomorrow, I will no longer be commuting to Fairfax every day. I’ve been thinking about this for probably the last two weeks. What will I say? Will I take my tea and drive off? Will she be there on my last day? What if she isn’t?
I have actually thought quite a little bit about what to do tomorrow morning when I am at her window around 7:30am.
Here’s what I have decided to do. I stopped this evening and picked up $100 in $20 bills. I came home and found a thank-you card in my stacks of cards. I wrote in the card – “I don’t know you and you don’t know me but every day for many years your simple words and kind face always made me feel better about my day. I am retiring and won’t be back. This is a little something for you. Enjoy.” I signed it, “Fred.”
I will give it to her – I certainly hope that she will be at her window tomorrow morning – when she hands me my unsweetened iced tea.
And then I will drive off.
I hope that maybe this time I can make her smile to herself in return for the hundreds of smiles that she has given me. Maybe I can make her day just a little bit better. I am excited about tomorrow morning. It will make a good day for me, too.
***UPDATE WED JAN 30 5:13PM***
Thank you for your interest.
Short answer – yes. She was there.
I was nervous all the way over to the store this morning hoping that she would be working today. I wasn’t sure about her until I actually had pulled up in front of her window. And there she was! She handed me my tea. I had the card sitting next to my shifter ready to go.
I took the tea and then said to her, as I handed her the envelope, “This is for you. Thanks for being nice.” She looked at me kind of startled but said, with a big smile, “Thank you.” And that was that. As I was pulling away I happened to see her putting her thumb under one corner of the envelope flap. By the time I had made it out to the main road and stop sign – maybe 30 seconds later – I figured she had it opened.
Oddly, this was a pretty emotional thing for me. It took me a few minutes to get it all back together as I drove away from her window. I don’t know. Many things now make me very emotional. Not sure about this – an end, a beginning, an anonymous soul, a gift, grace, smiles, consistent service, people hurting, people existing, needing to be needed.
It was a good morning. As I drank my tea the rest of the way to work, I was truly hoping that my friend at the window was going to have a good morning.