“Waitress – check please?”. The quizzical look on her face as I asked the question began a review of cascading events experienced in the previous 45 minutes. The answer to this riddle continues to perplex me. I can only smile at the answer.
Something very special happened the other day on the way to the “Park”. Locals refer to Yellowstone National Park as the “Park”. My parents and I loaded up the car for a day of playing tourist. First stop –the best pancake restaurant in the region (or even west of the Mississippi -see Long Runs and Pancakes) – Running Bear Pancake House, West Yellowstone, Montana. No long run today – just dining and then a day in the first National Park in the US taking fall pictures and watching grizzly bear, elk, bison and thermal features.
It could classify as a late breakfast. A few of the early crowd had left but many lingered. We were escorted to a table where the three of us were wedged into a corner. Slightly cranky from the noise and tight quarters I noticed a couple at the table to my left – probably mid forties and very much in love. A couple I will refer to as the “mystery couple”. Kind of warmed your heart. I proceeded to visit with my mom and dad. Once our waitress arrived we ordered (I ordered my favorite entrée; a short stack and “please keep the black coffee coming”).
About the time our order arrived we gave thanks for our meal and asked for safety and enjoyment as we eagerly anticipated the events of the day. The mystery couple finished their meal, got up and left. I didn’t think too much about it but went about my business of devouring my pancakes lathered in warm maple syrup. This is where the riddle begins.
Shortly after the mystery couple made their exit, our waitress returned with something in her hand. As she approached our table she held out a piece of paper and exclaimed “this is from the couple who were seated at the table next to you”, handed the paper to me, turned around and continued to serve her customers. Bewildered, I opened the note and read the hand written message inside. Once I finished reading, I passed the piece of paper to my parents. When they finished reading, we all just sat there for a moment not quite sure what to say. The note was nothing short of endearing. There were references to family values they witnessed, love for others and a birthday of a grandmother just the day before with a wish of being able to spend it with her. In a way they were saying “thanks” for being a family. My mom was nearly brought to tears. Pretty cool and a bit hard to believe that we can impact one another in ways we typically don’t recognize. But the riddle doesn’t end there.
When we had finished our meal, our plates were cleared and we continued to sit and visit while consuming yet another cup of coffee. We discussed how nice it was for this mystery couple to leave such an encouraging note. We waited for our check. And waited. And waited. Looking at my watch I realized daylight was burning and we needed to get into the Park. I flagged down our waitress and asked for our check. She looked at me with a funny look and said; “what? Didn’t you read the note? Your bill has been paid”. “There was no reference in the note to someone taking care of our check” I replied. “Well the table next to you paid it in full- including my tip” was her response. The three of us sat there uncertain what to say. Slowly and silently we rose and made our way out the door. A complete stranger paying my bill? This random act of kindness permeated our conversation throughout the entire day. The note hangs above my computer monitor.
Such kindness reminds me of another who paid a debt He did not owe for someone (me/you) who owed a debt but could not pay. Pretty awesome. Pass it on.
Photos; a sunset over Flathead Lake, Bigfork, MT while attending Flathead Lake Distance Running Camp, and my parents while visiting Old Faithful.
Until next time – enjoy the run!