Monday, May 30, 2016

Everyone you meet could have a Frankie at home

This is not Frankie. This dog belongs to some friends
 and is here to help create the right mood.
I saw this on the internet:
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always. 
Most of us read something like that and instantly think of people who really need to read something like that. 
Last week, while waiting to board a flight to North Carolina, I stopped for lunch in one of those places where you probably won't become ill, but would not order lobster salad either. There was no denting my mood. In two days, we would see the last of our four kids graduate college and yes,we are looking forward to the raise. 
I was feeling generous. 
A seventy-something server, trailed by a young trainee, greeted me and showed me to a table. She was chatty, with a familiar manner I always find endearing. She couldn't have been nicer to me. 
A man came in who looked like he'd just left a serious job or meeting. He was nicely dressed, fit, and carried an elegant brief with a Wall Street Journal poking out of the pocket.  In response to the server's cheery greeting, he quietly hung his coat over the chair and then said, "I'll take an iced tea." 
Next to me sat a diner who was known to everyone who worked there, in that regular customer or former employee way. My server greeted him with a hug and began to update him on goings on. 
She lowered her voice. "Hey. I had to finally put Frankie down," she told him.
"Aw, no. Really?" 
It was a long story, and at points in the telling, I didn't think she'd make it to the end. 
"And what do you think was the last thing that dog did, right after they gave him the stuff?" she asked.
The customer shook his head.
She leaned in. "He licked my face," she said. 
I prayed this how about that kind of comment would not fall sideways into a sob, because already, I was welling up.
When she brought me a dessert menu, I told her that I was sorry about her dog. "Aw, honey," she said. "Thank you." She leaned on the back of the chair across from me. 
"The worst part" she began, "worse than when Frankie went deaf and stopped walking, the worst part was when Jack,  the other one, didn't know where Frankie was when I got back. Wouldn't leave the door. Wouldn't eat. So, now I lost one and here's the other one, won't eat." 
Her chin crumpled. "I didn't know what to do," she said. "I was beside myself. So I got him a brother at the rescue. Ugliest little thing you ever saw." 
This brought a sudden, husky laugh. The serious man looked over, gave her an up and down look.
I asked how they were doing. 
"Oh. My God. Oh. My God. You should see. Can't be apart. One's big, one's little. They're both rescues." 
Later, she came back with the check and I left her a 100% tip because I couldn't help it. "You're the best example that a trainee could have. Thank you," I wrote.
I can get annoyed. I lose patience with people who drive 70 in the left lane or walk too slowly on the sidewalk in front of me, or talk without listening, or too loudly, or too close. I get frustrated when people don't seem to be acting like who they really are, or walk into elevators that are full with people trying to get off. I have to breathe when I'm behind travelers who won't move on people movers.   
But I've thought about the server since I saw that simple thing on the internet. 

I suspect that when Frankie was going downhill, there were probably times when my server didn't count her items before bringing them to the express lane. She may have walked into a building before she let the other person come out. In her work place she may not have gotten to a customer as fast as she should. She might have laughed more than necessary, to fill silence that might have been unbearable. 

And, I've thought about that well put together man too, grim and immune to a warm greeting, whose maybe-meeting might have been of a Frankie nature, over anything, might  have changed his life, and maybe not for the better. 
It won't always work, but I hope the ones who really should, like me, can remember:
Everyone you meet could have a Frankie at home. Be kind. Always.

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