The Remark That Started It All
Opening the door and holding it open as a polite gesture, she waited for the elderly woman to shuffle past her. Walking into the restaurant, she saw her again. As she walked past, she just caught what the woman said quietly to the waitress and stopped cold.
The remark had cut her deeply. She knew that she just wasn’t going to allow it.
Not Letting Anything Get Her Down
Texas resident Brook Ochoa couldn’t believe the week she was having. The weather was balmy and life was good. Although she had just recently gone through a bad breakup, she was finally starting to feel better. She was feeling particularly good about herself today — and it showed.
But she never expected what this day had in store for her.
Brook awoke early to run some errands. First on the list was a trip to the bank. When she was done, she breezed through the traffic, humming all the while. After picking up a few things at the grocery store, she realized that she was starving.
Having followed a strict diet all week, she decided to stop for a bite to eat. What could be the harm in treating herself? But fate had other plans.
As she walked up to the restaurant, she noticed an elderly woman behind her. Brook had been taught to respect her elders from a young age, so it was only natural for her to wait and hold the door open for her.
In Brook’s opinion, there was always time for kindness. But the woman looked at her, puzzled.
The woman seemed confused – almost as though she thought it was some sort of practical joke. Nothing could dull Brook’s spirits today – or so she thought. “After you,” Brook said, making it very clear that she was waiting for the woman to pass.
The woman smiled and thanked her before slowly shuffling through the open door. Brook thought that would be the end of their exchange, but she was so very wrong.
Brook had a look at the menu while she waited to be seated, weighing her options. Lately, she wanted to try to slim down a bit – not because she felt uncomfortable in her own body, but because she wanted to become healthier.
While she debated whether to order a salad or what she really wanted – a beef burger and some fries – she couldn’t help but overhear what the woman said to the waitress in front of her.
Overhearing Their Conversation
Looking up sharply, she saw that it was the elderly lady she had just held the door open for. The waitress had just approached the woman to show her to a table.
The waitress tried not to show her emotions upon hearing the older woman’s words, but the usually happy-go-lucky Brook couldn’t hold hers back. And it would be those five words that would give Brook an entirely new perspective.
Taking It To Facebook
Brook documented her account of the events that unfolded in that restaurant that day. She took to Facebook to let everyone know what had happened.
“Today I went to eat at a restaurant for lunch and I saw this elder lady coming from afar so I waited to hold the door for her, she was very thankful and sweet,” she began. But of course, it didn’ end there.
What the woman — who she had shown kindness to only moments earlier — had said to the waitress had cut her to the core. She couldn’t and wouldn’t accept it.
She hesitated for a moment, and then mustered up all her courage to approach her. She wasn’t going to let this happen. Not today.
What Brook said to the elderly woman next was enough to completely blow up on Facebook. Netizens were so startled at the exchange between the girl from Texas and the elderly woman that Brook became an overnight sensation. It was such an unusual thing to see on social media.
Many people wouldn’t have confronted the situation Brook had found herself in — and she did it head-on. She marched right up to the woman and asked her what was going on.
The elderly lady was taken aback to see Brook marching toward her in all her glory. She looked sheepishly from the waitress and back at the girl striding purposefully toward her. The look on Brook’s face was crestfallen, but her body language said otherwise — She was going to sort things out.
The elderly lady began to wonder if she had done something wrong and began to stutter.
Repeating What She’d Said
Brook reached the lady, whose name she found out later, and pointedly asked her if she had just heard what she thought she had heard. The look on Brook’s face said it all. She was angry and upset all at the same time but was trying not to let her emotions show.
The elderly lady, blindsided, repeated what she said and Brook’s face fell even further. Her assumptions were correct.
Five Little Words
The woman had said “a table for one, please.” Brook immediately knew that she had to take action. But what was it about this elderly woman’s request that had sent her spiraling into such overwhelming dismay?
Brook explains her feelings on her Facebook post before it became a viral sensation. Everyone who saw it was dumbstruck.
“She then told the waitress, ‘a table for one, please’, so I waited and hesitated but then I walked over and said, ‘I’m eating by myself too, would you like to have lunch together?’” Brook continued. She wasn’t going to let this woman eat alone.
But it was the elderly woman’s reaction that caused public outcry. Brook’s post had brought a very real issue to light that day.
The woman, whose name was Delores, accepted Brook’s offer enthusiastically. She was so touched and happy to have some company while she ate her lunch. The pair chatted over mains and Brook gradually found out that Delores had been going through a tough time lately.
She spilled all her troubles to Brook and the two formed a friendship right then and there!
“Come to find out she spent the last decade living with her mom who recently passed away and her aunt who recently was put into a nursing home, so she has been having a hard time being alone. We had a wonderful talk, and she just kept smiling and saying thank you for listening to me, which made me smile too!” Brook wrote.
But she never expected her post to go viral.
Social Media Sensation
Brooke’s post was shared a staggering 279,000 times on Facebook, and it received over 2.2 million likes. Hearing Brook’s story about connecting with a lonely soul touched readers so much that they applauded her for her kindness.
“Thank you for sharing your story, it shows that there are a lot of good people in this world,” one person on Facebook wrote. But Delores wasn’t the only one who needed the company…
Brook realized that connecting with a stranger and listening to her hardships was exactly what she had needed that day, too. “Her words healed my heart just as much as I healed her lonely one. By far the best decision I’ve made all year!”
But what would become of her newly found friend? She couldn’t just leave her after all they had shared.
Brook resolved to keep seeing her new friend, Delores. She took her contact details and set up a standing lunch date: “… we will be having lunch every Thursday from now on,” Brook wrote happily.
But unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Fate had something much larger in store that would make Brook’s kind gesture even more meaningful.
Brook wrote an update to the post that had attracted so much attention on Facebook, and indeed worldwide. The news was bittersweet for everyone following the story.
“Delores passed away soon thereafter this post. I am delighted that it still touches so many lives in such a positive way. Thank you all for your support and your kind comments!” Brook wrote
A Powerful Gesture
Delores’ passing made the fact that Brook reached out to the elderly woman even more powerful, as neither of them knew that Delores had only a little more time on this earth when they met.
And Brook is determined to keep paying it forward by inspiring millions of people every day. But what did Brook think of all the attention?
“I’m glad they got my intentions right though because all I wanted was to make a difference in one person’s life… to be kind, to do better, to see that being there for someone else can fill your heart with just as much happiness too,” Brook said in an interview.
“It was never a boast, just a post that I thought would make others take a step back, make a change and smile. Glad that is exactly what happened.”
In the end, Brook’s story about reaching out to a stranger highlighted the plight of seniors everywhere. If more people reached out to these lonely souls, the world would be a better place.
The lesson here is to always be kind – after all, nobody knows just how much time they have left. It’s important to make it count. Out next story is about a man whose trip to the bank also had unintended consequences.
What was this, sitting on the counter? He picked it up and inspected it. It was an envelope. Curious, he opened it up, and when he saw what was inside his heart started to race.
He pushed past the line of confused onlookers at the bank and ran as fast as he could, past the security guards, gripping the envelope to tightly to his chest.
Family man Rob Edwards couldn’t believe the week he was having. The weather in Florida was balmy and life was good. He looked at his beautiful wife in awe as they sat and ate breakfast together. They had recently celebrated their 21 year anniversary, and Rob couldn’t be happier.
But there was something else to celebrate, too.
Cole, Rob’s eldest, had just finished high school and the family was gearing up for the graduation ceremony. Everything Rob did for his son in the last 18 years had been in preparation for this momentous day. His children were his pride and joy.
But Rob never expected what this particular day had in store for him.
Rob awoke early on the big day to run some errands. First on the list was a trip to the bank. He breezed through the traffic, humming as he drove. He pulled up to the concrete building and looked for a parking space, noting that the bank looked rather busy on this particular morning.
But not even a long bank queue could dull his spirits today.
As he entered the building he noticed a woman hurrying behind him, so he turned and held the door open for her. There was always room for chivalry, Rob thought to himself as she smiled and thanked him graciously.
Then he motioned for the stranger to go ahead of him, and she looked at him in disbelief.
In No Hurry
Rob nodded and smiled at the woman, and said that she should get in line ahead of him. He still had time to get his errands done before the graduation ceremony started, so he was in no hurry.
At first, she refused, but when she saw Rob’s sincere and smiling face, she thanked him and accepted.
“By all means go in front of me. Today my son graduates,” Rob said happily. “I’m slowing down and want to savor every minute.” The woman laughed, and the pair began to chit-chat while they waited for the long line of people to move.
Rob told her about his son Cole and his daughter Taylor, and the woman exchanged some information about her own family.
Waiting in Line
Eventually, the line had moved up and it was the woman’s turn to be served by the teller. She beamed at Rob as she broke away from the queue, waving as she went. Rob, thinking that their exchange was over, smiled back at her.
But he had no idea that this woman had a plan up her sleeve.
Slipped Him Something
When it was Rob’s turn to be served, he strode over to the teller with a smile and completed his transaction. But just moments later, his smile faded to a look of confusion as he felt something being slipped under his left arm, which was resting on the counter.
He turned quickly to see the mysterious woman hurrying past him.
Rob looked down to see that a plain envelope had been slipped under his elbow, then the woman said something as she passed, but he didn’t quite catch it. He eyed the envelope and his mind raced.
All his optimism had turned to suspicion as he speculated as to what it could possibly contain, but he was about to be completely blindsided.
Rob stood for a few moments, dazed. He turned to the confused people waiting in line behind him with a puzzled expression, but the blank faces had no more answers about the woman’s strange behavior than he did.
There was only one way to find out what was in the envelope. He had to open it. So he took a deep breath and tore the seal.
Rob held the suspicious envelope at arm’s length before gingerly peering inside. His heart started to pound. It was too late to go back now, but he knew that he just may have made a very big mistake. At first glance, he thought that the envelope was empty.
But when he pulled the sides of the paper apart his mouth opened in disbelief.
At the Ready
Rob’s mind had played out every scenario before he had opened up the envelope. He was, after all, in a bank. He glanced desperately over to the doors and was relieved to see two uniformed security guards standing there–just in case.
Thankfully, he wouldn’t need their assistance just yet. But the contents of the envelope were so completely unexpected that he took a double-take.
Inside the envelope was money…But why? Rob immediately grabbed his paperwork from off the counter and made a mad dash to the door. He had to find the mysterious woman, but as he stepped onto the sidewalk, he thought he was too late, and she was long gone.
But he needed to know why she had slipped him the envelope of cash.
Searching the crowd in both directions, there was no sign of her. Then, by sheer luck, he looked ahead and noticed her getting into her car in the distance. Without a moment’s thought, Rob ran across the road to catch her, but she was already pulling away from the parking lot.
She saw Rob running at her car and rolled down her window.
“I Can’t Take This!”
Rob reached the car and caught his breath while the woman watched in amazement. Then Rob said, “I can’t take this!” and tried to give the envelope back to her through the window.
But then, the woman calmly explained why she had decided to slip him the envelope with the $50 inside, and Rob was floored.
“When you talk about your boy, you glow” the woman explained. “You’re a blessing to him, I want to bless him too!” Rob’s face, when he had talked about his son, had been beaming with pride, and the mysterious woman had been touched by his fatherly love.
When Rob understood, he was at a loss for words. So, he snapped a picture of the kind woman, and went about his errands.
During Cole’s graduation ceremony, Rob was so filled with happiness he thought he might burst. But the day’s unexpected events played heavily on his mind. There was still one more thing to do.
So he uploaded the photo of the mysterious woman onto Facebook with a post explaining what had transpired between them that day, but he didn’t expect the response he would receive.
Faith in Humanity
One commenter wrote: “First of all kid, I can’t believe your boy is 18! Second, I’ve been thinking a lot about the transformational power of love and kindness. Our life is as a vapor…it is here and then it’s gone. Thanks for sharing your blessings…”
People loved Rob’s story about random acts of kindness and paying it forward.
“The whole point of life right here! And it could not have happened to a more deserving person. Great story Rob Edwards! And so well told, as per usual.
When you write a book look me up. I reckon I got a few titles for you already!” one of Rob’s friends added.
Sharing the Love
“I was so touched. I don’t know her name, I’ve never ever seen her before. But I will never forget her love. I asked to take a picture with her. And hugged her neck. We need more of this in the world today,” Rob wrote, “…not the money. But kindness. I hugged a complete stranger today. My son who I love with all my heart was shown love.”
Then, Rob went on to explain how touched he had been by the stranger’s gesture.
“Many of you who know me know what I believe in. Sounds kinda familiar don’t it. It warms the father’s heart to love the son. I am blessed. Cole Edwards I’m so proud of you! To my bank customer friend. THANK YOU!” Rob continued.
And his story is just one of many out there about paying it forward.
Random Acts of Kindness
The tradition of random acts of kindness has gained popularity in the US, and even has an entire day dedicated to it. National Random Acts Of Kindness Day is celebrated by groups, individuals, and organizations to encourage acts of kindness in the month of February. The principal is simple: perform a small act of kindness for a stranger.
But Rob’s story shows that people don’t need an excuse to be kind on only one particular day of the year!
Pay it Forward
“What a precious story! Thank you for sharing! God bless her for sharing love and being an example of what love looks like. We need more love in the world!!!” another commenter wrote on Rob’s post.
But surprisingly, Rob isn’t the only one to ever receive an envelope of cash from a stranger!
An Imgur user known as gingersnap1316 had another heartwarming story to tell about an unexpected act of kindness.
One day, while she was home alone, the doorbell wouldn’t stop ringing. Annoyed, she finally answered the door on the third ring, only to see a stranger standing there. He then asked her a strange question.
“Are you Karen?” she describes the encounter on Imgur. “I told him no, that Karen was my mom and he gave a quick smile and handed me an unmarked envelope and walked away. I get inside and open it up.”
Thinking the encounter was somewhat strange, our Imgur user was flabberghasted to find $1,000 in cash in the envelope, as well as a letter.
Spreading the Word
“Please accept this gift as an act of random kindness,” the letter read.
“A cherished member of our family devoted much of her time and resources to helping people through ‘Random Acts Of Kindness’. She gave to others in many ways, and always did so anonymously. One way our family has chosen to honor her memory is to continue in the tradition of helping others in the community with acts of random kindness.”
The Spirit of Giving
The letter then went on: “A ‘Random Act Of Kindness’ does not have to involve the giving of money. It can be as simple as sharing your time with someone, lending an ear, or offering a compliment.
The most important part is that the act is unsolicited and done so with no expectation of anything in return.”
Needless to say, the recipient of the Random Act Of Kindness was sure to pay it forward. And it’s stories like these that restore people’s faith in humanity–so always remember to be kind.
It’s often the smallest gestures that mean the world to someone, even if it’s just a smile.