Do good, and good will be done to you.
It had become somewhat of a tradition. I'm sure we missed a few years here and there, but otherwise, New Year's Eve Ghon and I went to Carrabas for dinner. He often joked that an hour wait, spent at the bar with a bourbon, in 2007 resulted in Jonathan in September 2008.
He must have been onto something. More bourbon at Carrabas in 2009 resulted in Genevieve in September 2010.
It all started because of Christmas gift cards from our friends Scott and Jen Thompson. And our love for the appetizer called "Scott Thompson." I think Ghon laughed a little every time we ordered it, even when it was no longer on the menu.
We still had a gift card when Ghon died. While moving and packing it up months ago, I decided that no matter what, I was going to Carrabas on NYE and I was going to buy someone dinner. Another couple, and spread the love. I didn't initially plan on taking the kids, but decided today that they too should go and help me on our secret mission.
I wanted the kids to experience how nice it can be to do things for others. How awesome it would be to surprise someone with a free meal. And that the recipient, now not having to pay for dinner, may give their waitstaff extra. As a result of our gift, we would feel awesome, the recipient would feel amazing and possibly, the waitstaff, and maybe, just maybe, the recipient would then pay it forward and more people would benefit.
Off we went. Call ahead seating, 5 minute wait. Genevieve in her normal fashion needed to go to the bathroom as soon as we arrived, so Jonathan and I started looking for recipients of our secret gift as we walked through and waited. Another trip halfway through dinner and I felt like I found my couple.
I originally thought it would be just a couple. Perhaps someone that reminded me of how we would be. Dressed up but not to fancy. Talking. Obviously a couple. But, I saw a couple there with their young child. So many times it was hard for us to go out without kids. I remember going out and having that messy spaghetti face beside me. I know that I will always be dining out with my kids. I suggested them to the kids, and they agreed.
Now, not the norm for a secret or random act like this, but before we went out, I wrote a note. I don't know what I wrote word for word, but basically it went something like this:
It was a tradition for many years for my husband and I to have dinner at Carrabas on New Year's Eve. This year, he couldn't make it as he died unexpectedly this summer. Live each day to the fullest. Love each other completely and faithfully. Your meal is on me. Take care of your waitstaff. Be kind to others. God bless you and Happy New Year.
I went to the hostess stand, and asked for their help. Deliver the note anonymously and give me the check. A few minutes later, their waiter brought me their bill, and verified it was me who wanted it. A manager came by on his way around to ask if I should stay anonymous as they wanted to know who paid for their bill. I asked to please stay anonymous. I paid the bill, and decided to be safe, and still left a little something for the waiter.
The kids just giggled at the secret we were keeping.
My waitress comes and was going to take the bill. I said mentioned it was for another table, and that we hadn't received ours yet, but were ready. Her reply?
"Someone has already taken care of your bill."
I was so shocked I couldn't speak. When she came back by, I tried to find out who. Turns out it was a table near us, but they were already gone. Not knowing if they covered gratuity, I estimated our bill and gave a tip to our waitress, and we left with full bellies and fuller hearts.
The kids think it's quite silly that we paid for a stranger's dinner and a stranger paid for ours. I'd love to know if somehow, it kept going. Or will continue another day.
Perhaps, we will go back and do dinner or lunch again. Since my dinner was paid for, I still have that gift card I walked in with.
Thanks Ghon, for going to Carrabas with me all these years. I think I'll keep going.
Happy New Year friends. Be the good in the world; the world needs it.