I read a story today about a waiter's encounter with a mother and her daughter. The pair complained that there were hardly any photos of women on the wall of the pizzeria. Instead, they were annoyed that many of the pictures were of men. The waiter tried to make light of the conversation, but they decided to be offended. When the bill came, they paid without leaving a tip. As the waiter was clearing their table, he noticed an envelope. Instead of throwing it away, he looked inside first. It contained a cashier's check for half a million dollars. He ran outside to catch the women, but they were already gone. He gave the check to his boss in hopes the women would return. When the women realized the next day that their check, which was the money they received selling their home, was gone, panic sunk in. They finally retraced their steps back to the restaurant. They were surprised that the man they had stiffed held onto their money until they were found. They offered to give him a tip which he refused. They did offer an apology to the young waiter and learned a valuable lesson. These two women made an undeserving judgment on another human being without knowing him at all.
We've all made assumptions about people we first meet that turn out to be wrong. Experience does shape our perceptions, but it shouldn't keep us close-minded. It's important to take a moment before passing judgment on a person. For example, we may not be in the best mood because we're going through a stressful time. That doesn't give us a pass to be impolite to others or decide to ruin their day. If we looked at ourselves first, we might realize that our frustration is not with others but with ourselves. If that's the case, we should go home. This way, we avoid any chance encounters that may end badly.
When I have an event to go to or just a trip to the store, I envision everyone I'll meet as happy people. I find, for the most part, fun interactions with strangers. I try to put them in a good light. If someone is a little rude, I hope that whatever is bothering them will pass soon. I'd rather move on than let another person's bad day affect me.
I'm sure many people who read the waiter's story probably felt that he should've tossed the check out of spite. He was doing his job and didn't have any say about what photos went on the wall. His customers mistreated him, but he didn't let that stop him from being a good person. I felt uplifted by his sense of humanity. It was nice to hear a story that had a beautiful ending. It also reminded me that we all make mistakes, and hopefully, someone will still show us kindness. We all would like the opportunity to redeem ourselves, and when we get that chance, it stays with us forever.