A few years ago we had a family website and I would write occasional articles on it. Consider it a pre-blog blog. I named those articles Memo: Random. Occasionally I am going to post them here under Random Postings. This one is back 7 years ago from 1/27/2002.
Recently, I have been waking up in the middle of the night, usually around 3 A.M. Most nights, I go right back to sleep, but sometimes I don't even try. This morning was one of those occasions.
I woke up at 4:30 after 4 hours of sleep. My wife, Amy, was feeding our soon to be 3 month old boy. She put him into bed and went back to sleep; but I was wide awake. So I got up, went into the computer room and looked up some things on the Internet.
At about 6, our daughter walked in the room. In order to let the other half of our family stay sleeping, I quietly got her dressed and we went out to buy donuts. I didn't have any cash on me, so we went to a Dunkin Donuts that I "remembered" accepted credit cards.
When we got out of the car, the store looked how I expected a donut shop to look at 6 o'clock on a Sunday morning: sparsely populated. There was one car in the drive-thru, one customer ahead of me, and one "regular" nursing his coffee in the corner booth.
When it was our turn, I made our order, making sure to get a good variety. I asked my daughter to tell the man what kind she wanted and in language typical of a 2 year old, she said she wanted a white one while pointing to a powdered donut. (If 2 year olds couldn't point it would be a lot harder to understand them.)
When it came time to pay, I pulled out my check card and much to my surprise and dismay was told I "remembered" wrong about them accepting credit cards. They did not!
I rather sheepishly had to admit, I had no actual money on me. My plan was to run to an ATM, get cash, and pick up the donuts. The counter person told me to just take the donuts and pay him back another time. I was reluctant to accept his offer but he insisted.
We took the donuts, went back to the car, got cash at the ATM and came back. By this time, activity at the store had perked up a little. I got in line to pay the guy back. At the same time the "regular" got in line behind me. I thought he was just refilling his coffee but he had come to talk to me.
The man was probably my Dad's age (late 50's/ early 60's). He was the kind of person my daughter would refer to as a Grandpa. To her, there are four types of males (Baby, Kid, Man and Grandpa). He told me that I did not have to pay for the donuts, that he was picking up the tab.
The most embarrassing part of this incident of not bringing cash was the implication that our family was destitute and needed to panhandle for donuts. Thinking this was his impression, I politely declined indicating "I have money." He responded, "No, I've got it. It's for being honest and coming back."
I was still tempted to refuse his offer, but I think I correctly labeled that temptation as stubborn pride thanked him and went back home.
Many thoughts have penetrated my cranium about what kernel of truth to pull from this man's act of kindness. The first thought I had was that honesty must be a small commodity these days when a total stranger thinks it an oddity that needs to be rewarded. Another along those same lines was that honesty should be a given and needs no reward. The third was always keep $10.00 in the glove box for donut related emergencies. Finally I latched onto this:
Honesty, like any virtue should be pursued, taught and praised when seen in action. As a member of our society, the "regular" was simply affirming the ideal of honesty by giving my family breakfast on the house.
As my children grow up, Amy and I will try to teach them many valuable lessons about character. I can think of none stronger than when you spot virtue in our fallen world: be the guy who buys the donuts.
Meanwhile in 2009: The Dunkin Donuts was torn down recently and a new Dunkin Donuts just opened up at the same location. They now accept credit cards at least I "remember" using one there. :)
Back in 2012 again. I thought of this incident a few Saturday's ago when I walked about a mile and a half with my current 6 year old to get cash from Walgreen's to buy donuts at the donut store around the corner from our house. I walked all that way because that donut shop does not accept check cards. It turns out, that now they do and I walked a mile and a half out of the way. I have been able to pay forward that regular's investment in honesty in several ways over the past decade and will continue to be on the lookout to applaud the virtuous.