Even the smallest gestures of kindness can make an exponential difference.
A couple days into my job at Bolay I had finished my station prep early for sauces and sides, and on a random whim I decided to sharpie inspirational messages on the tops of the large bowl to-go lids. I was originally only going to do a couple, but before I knew it ten lids turned into a hundred and fifty. I tried to make them all different, each of them an encouraging message to the stranger who would be enjoying Bolay’s delicious food that day. When you work in the restaurant business you see hundreds of people everyday, It’s important to realize that every single one of them is facing their own individual struggle. It’s up to those of us in customer service to give them the best experience possible, to give them some comfort in their difficult day. The first day I wrote on the lids, I got no feedback. A couple managers walked by and chuckled, but other than that– nothing. The day ended and I hoped that my small gesture of kindness might have made someone feel at least a little better.
Two weeks later, and still every morning that I came in I would write roughly two hundred lids. Every now and then fellow Bolay staff members would offer suggestions for what to write when I hit a writer’s block, but still no feedback from any of the lid recipients. I was beginning to worry that perhaps people, in their haste to eat their yummy food, weren’t seeing my little notes. I thought to myself that it didn’t really matter and no one really cared so I might as well spare myself an early onset of arthritis and stop writing on the lids.
Later on that day amid the crazy lunch hour rush, a woman came bursting through the front doors… Crying.
“Who writes on the lids?” She asked the girl working cashier who just happened to be my sister.
Ryli pointed to me.
My heart clenched. This could either be really good or really bad. Very confused and unsure about what was about to happen, I slowly raised my hand.
” I do, I write on the lids.”
She took a deep shuddering breath, wiping her teary eyes.
“I just want you to know, that my husband and I have been going through in-vitro fertilization for several years. It’s been such a horrible, hard, painful process… And today, I just broke down. We got in a big fight and I told him that I was quitting. That I was going to stop trying, and that we should just forget about trying to get pregnant because it obviously is never going to happen.”
I listened, eyes wide.
“So today, I just wanted some good food to make me feel a little better… And when I went to eat I saw that you had written ‘Stay Strong’ on my lid and I just think that’s a sign. So I called my husband and I told him NO, we ARE NOT going to quit! We need to stay strong because we can do this. And I just want you to know that because of that little message we’re going to keep trying and stay strong and keep moving forward.”
I was completely speechless.
She was crying.
I was crying.
We hugged, and talked for a bit (it was rush hour after all). After that she left and I was still stunned.
Needless to say, the next day- I was back writing again with fervor.
A several weeks later she came back into the store, I recognized her immediately and waved. She came rushing over and told me excitedly that amazingly they had made progress and things were looking very promising.
Every time I’ve seen her she’s keep me updated on how things were going… And just very recently she told me…