Paying it forward

Published 10:00 pm Friday, March 25, 2016

My family and I love to frequent a dining establishment in Landrum, S.C. Landrum is a suburb of Gramling, S.C. Below is the replay from a recent dinner experience with my family. I’m not making this up.

My daughter has gotten into riding horses – big time. I watched a lot of Western movies growing up but I know very little about horses other than they are expensive to own and maintain, or so I’ve been told. Every week after her riding lessons, we go to this “establishment” near Landrum to celebrate another successful lesson without injury or over-drafting my account to pay for lessons.

This past week, we sat in our usual spot and waited on the waitress to greet us. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see an older gentleman along with what appeared to be his wife and grown children enjoying a meal. He had this warm face, like he had known me for a long time. He kept looking at our family and just smiling. I got nervous thinking we were interrupting their dinner experience. Remember, I have kids. Kids can be loud and squirmy and mine are just that, especially one of them.

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After a few awkward glances back and forth this gentleman calls me over to the table. Thinking he wanted to see one of my kids who are much cuter and have better hair, I asked him are you sure you want ME to come over?  He said yes, I ran over expecting to get a tongue lashing for letting my kids ruin his meal. Boy was I wrong.

He looks at me says, “You have a beautiful family. You are and your family are what make this country so great.” I responded, “But Donald Trump thinks we need him to Make America Great Again.”

I thanked him and went back to my table, which has now turned, into pure chaos. Jack is hungry and trying to drill a hole in the table with his fork. Ellie, who is tired and smells like a wet, sweaty horse is in serious need of food.  Luckily, it arrives soon, and all is right with the world. Jack’s fork will never be the same.

After dinner I ask for the check and the waitress tells me, “It’s been taken care of.”

I knew exactly who paid for my meal and why he did it. I couldn’t help but see a little bit of myself in him. He was nearer the end of his life than the beginning, his children were grown (all 10 of them) and seeing my young boisterous and smelly family allowed him to reminisce a little about times gone past.

No matter what season of life you are in, I hope you take this Easter weekend to celebrate the past, present and the future.

And to my new friend Joe, thank you for your act of kindness. It meant more to me than you know and I hope I can live up to your expectations.

Happy Easter, y’all!

– By Michael Baughman