I believe Johnny Cash sang it best with the famous lyrics, “bad news travels like wildfire, good news travels slow.”
That’s so true, but I would like to help good news travel a little faster. There’s a lot of good news out there, and it travels slowly if it travels at all.
I started focusing a lot of my thoughts on good news when I heard that an anonymous diner picked up a $309 tab recently for 26 people at Arboledas Mexican Grill in Royse City. The group included three Royse City High School special education teachers and 16 life skills students. They had just returned from a field trip.
I’ve got to tell this story, I thought, and I did. My story of their story ended up on Page 1 of the Royse City Herald-Banner on March 15. Yes, some good news is still Page 1 news on the pages of some fine publications.
One of the teachers described the man as an angel. Using some of my newsman detective skills — I asked a question or two — I found the man.
He doesn’t consider himself to be an angel. He prefers for now to be known simply as an anonymous diner.
He told me that he sat in the same section of the restaurant with the group and he saw some women putting their dollar and five-dollar bills together to pay the bill. The man said he realized that he could help them, and he did.
The anonymous diner wanted to pay the bill, then slip out of the restaurant. He didn’t make it. The group’s server pointed out the generous diner to one of the teachers.
“Sir, thank you so much,” the tearful teacher told the man.
“Thank you for all that you do for your students,” the generous diner responded.
The story got even better when the teacher said that their students are the beneficiaries of the generous act. With the money saved on the meals, the teachers will have an opportunity to take the students on another field trip this school year.
I think there’s a lot to learn from what happened here. What I like about what he told me is that he saw an opportunity to help. He could help because he had the financial resources. And he responded.
He told me he didn’t expect any acknowledgement or recognition. Most people who perform generous acts of kindness don’t want to be recognized or identified. They don’t want pats on the back. Those acts are from the heart and that’s what makes their stories so rich — great stories that encourage, great stories that are worth retelling.
You may not see a lot of these stories on the news pages of newspapers because we put names to people who are the sources of information. But I certainly will consider spreading the good news in this column that I write on an almost-weekly basis.
Yes, these are feel-good stories. And there’s nothing wrong with feeling good about something you read or hear.
And I think random acts of kindness or generosity – or whatever you call them – are contagious. I believe others will be inspired to do what the anonymous diner did – he saw an opportunity to help and he did.
Several days after the Mexican restaurant story started circulating, I heard that a visitor to the McDonald’s restaurant in Royse City paid for some meals. I don’t know how the donor did it, but I heard that a McDonald’s employee told some customers that someone had paid for their meals.
That’s happened to wife Becky and me on a couple of occasions. Once at a McDonald’s restaurant and a time or two at Starbucks — when I was a frequent Starbucks customer — the person ahead of me in line paid for my meal or coffee.
I know in all cases, I wanted to chase the anonymous donor down just to say, “Thank you.” I resisted the urge to do that because that effort would be to satisfy me. The anonymous donors didn’t want that. He or she wanted to be anonymous.
So, are you inspired? Do you want to “give,” but don’t know quite how it’s done? Well, there’s training ground at the Aldi grocery stores.
Here’s what you do. As you may know, to get a shopping cart, you put a quarter in a slot on the cart and that releases it for your use.
Then, after shopping, you return your cart – and I’m not going to go into detail about the mechanics – and you get your 25 cents back.
Here’s where you get your training. Return your cart and don’t plug it in. Your cart is ready for the next shopper and they don’t have to provide their own quarter. It’s already taken care of. You are the anonymous donor. Wow. What a deal!
Or, look for an approaching shopper, give them your cart. And let them know you don’t expect a quarter in return. Have a great day.
Now, am I being silly with this two-bit example?
No, not at all. I do want to tell you that if you can bless someone with hundreds of dollars, then follow your heart and respond if you see the opportunity.
But it doesn’t take hundreds of dollars to make someone smile or feel encouraged.
I can assure you that very simple act of kindness could make someone’s day. A quarter at the grocery store could be like a smile.
It doesn’t take much. And you never know just what that simple act will spark. You feel better, the recipient feels better, they pay it forward.
You never know where it will lead, but what’s important is that you know where it started.
You can whisper to yourself, ”It started with me and, by golly, that’s good enough for me.”
Jim Hardin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.