NICE PEOPLE

I was sprawled out on my couch, broken ankle in the air, tummy uncomfortably full and – picture this if you dare – the tiniest bit of chocolate tucked in the corners of my mouth. Sexy image, isn’t it? Something that belongs on The Simpsons.

My Christmas was wonderful. I’ve never loved the idea of visiting restaurants on Christmas day, but circumstances persuaded some of my friends that it was the best and most convenient option.

We decided on a ‘nice’ restaurant…nothing fancy but the waiters are well trained and the steak exquisite. Covid-induced legal requirements like social distancing had not quite doused the festive mood when we arrived. The waitress showed us to our table. Getting there on my crutches felt like a three day trip by horse.

I arrived at the table tired and sweating like Rudy Giuliani at a Borat movie premiere. I had to scooch over to the corner chair. An older gentleman from the table next to ours jumped up, put on his mask and pulled our table away from me to create space. He pulled my chair closer to me and offered the adjacent chair for my leg to rest on. He put our table back and returned to his own party leaving only a merry Christmas and a smile.

A few minutes later an old man in a wheel chair struggled to move by our table. Before we could get up, a young man came over and pushed his chair gently to where he wanted it, right across from where I was sitting. The old man on wheels was alone. Alone on Christmas day. I felt a lump develop in my throat.

Ah, my favorite customer! a beautiful young lady waitress yelled as she approached him and gave him a warm sideways hug. He smiled. She positioned him toward the large big screen TV where a local sports team was doing their thang. His waitress would pop over regularly, making small talk and asking about his health.

Niceness was happening everywhere. Smiles, hands on shoulders, merry Christmases, giving up seats, making jokes…

Nice people. I just love nice people. They are not mentioned on Instagram or the news and no-one dishes out medals for niceness. But today, nice people made my Christmas so special, that when I was lying on my couch, completely stuffed, my heart filled my entire chest. I felt gratitude. And hope. Maybe mankind is not completely doomed after all, despite the ‘rona’s best efforts…

I sat in my Christmas restaurant watching all kinds of niceness play out like scenes from a Gary Marshall movie. Random acts of kindness. I looked at the servers going about their business with apparent joy and graciousness.

As we drove to the restaurant I was scared my crutches might slip and I’d fall. The humiliation would be survivable but not conducive to repeated public appearance.

As we drove home I felt I could dance. Everything is going to be just fine…

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