A Textbook Case Of Kindness

, , , , , , | Hopeless | July 3, 2018

I am a 19-year-old female working part-time at a 24-hour fast food restaurant while at university. During my semester break, I decide to take on extra shifts as I have the time. I am also essentially broke, as for two subjects in my upcoming semester I am required to have latest edition textbooks. Unable to go for secondhand, I was forced to pay full price for both, which left me with barely enough for my next meal. Therefore, I agree to take on a Saturday late shift from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am, then another the next day from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, ensuring I get paid overtime.

What I forgot, however, is that the Saturday late shift is by far the worst of them all. Over the eight hours, we deal with more bottom-of-the-barrel, deadbeat customers than I have ever dealt with in a whole year of working there. Long story short, we endure lewd, misogynistic comments from drunk men old enough to be our fathers, multiple women stoned out of their minds who holler, “WHY IS THE CAFE AREA NOT OPEN?” before hurling their handbags at us, and I spend forty minutes scraping pickles and cheese slices off the ceiling and heading to my break half an hour late. That is just part of what I deal with on this shift.

Every rush gets longer and busier to the point where, in my last hour, we have a never-ending angry mob chanting for their food like a cult.

To top it off, this is one of the hottest nights on record, and our air-conditioning is broken; we have nothing but a tiny fan in the corner that barely reaches the closest register. I am sweating from under my cap, constantly fanning myself with my hands, and eagerly counting down the last fifteen minutes.

It is while I am desperately trying to match orders to receipts that I feel a tap on my shoulder from a coworker. She points to a young female customer, and says she wants to talk to me. I do not recognise the customer; however, she appears to be one or two years older than me, dressed for a night out in the city, and very clearly sober. Given my past experiences, I still immediately assume the worst and approach the register timidly, prepared for a berating.

However, to my surprise, the girl gives me a soft smile. She says that she has been watching me struggle with the immense amount of orders while still remaining calm and collected and ignoring the constant stream insults. She also notes how often I was fanning myself and that I never failed to smile at any customer when handing them their food, regardless of their attitude towards me. She says that I have been doing an amazing job handling everything and then holds out a $20 note. As tipping is not a standard in Australia, I am not sure if I am allowed to accept it, so I politely turn her down. She insists and I still decline; however, I thank her profusely for her kind comments before returning to my station, this time with a warmed heart and genuine smile.

Fifteen minutes later, I am leaving the work area when I notice the girl has waited around. She walks over to me and asks if my shift has ended. Before I finish telling her yes, she takes my hand and presses the $20 note into it, then wraps me into a hug and tells me I deserve it. When she pulls away, she presses me on how I am getting home and I assure her I have a ride. She then offers me one last smile, wishes me the best, and leaves with a boy who has been standing not too far away.

What that girl will never know is that her generosity is the sole reason I was able to eat breakfast the next day and afford a taxi home after my next late shift. My paycheck came in later that week, and soon I was stable enough to spend money on more than just groceries, but I will never forget that girl’s good heart and kindness towards a person she did not know, and it is still one of the most heart-warming things anyone has ever done for me.

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