A Smile Card Apology To A Lonely Lady
--by jazzyswami, posted Nov 2, 2013
A few minutes into the call the lady sitting at the table beside mine got up, seemingly offended, and asked the restaurant staff to relocate her to a table as far away as possible from this man who won't get off his phone.
I sank in my seat out of embarrassment. I ended the call soon afterwards and felt the urge to go over and apologize. Before getting up I looked around to see where she was and she was, indeed, at the table furthest away from me. Kudos to the restaurant staff.
I noticed that the lady was alone and staring out the window. I thought I detected a tinge of sadness or melancholy and perhaps an implicit desire for aloneness and the peace I had so obviously shattered minutes earlier.
Right then I abandoned my plans for a conventional apologetic gesture and decided to conduct an experiment. Seeing those funny Smile cards in my wallet I took one out. On signing my restaurant check I asked my server to secretly charge the lady's meal to my credit card and hand her the Smile card instead of her bill.
I left the premises at that point, letting the staff know to expect me back in a few hours to pick up my credit card and close the bill.
I returned later as promised, excited to learn the outcome of the experiment. Did she take it the wrong way, I wondered? Did she get confused? Did she refuse the anonymous offer? And so on.
To my pleasant surprise, things turned out the best possible way, which is why I am sharing this story with you today!
A cohort of restaurant staff approached me in a stream of joy, telling me that in the many times she had dined there before they had never seen the old lady smile and laugh like she did upon receiving the Smile card and the $0 check. "She opened up," they said. "She thanked us even though we explained that someone else did the job."
To top it off, the staff inquired about the Smile cards and how to obtain them so as to conduct their own experiments.
It was an interesting, fun, experiment which may hopefully result in many more.