Dinner with a friend


“The guy who was sitting next to you took care of it already.” We were two friends from middle school who had found each other together again in a new chapter in life. You were in town for the Cubs game. I was telling my friend about an amazing presentation I had seen in which presenters discussed how our brain influences our decisions. One of the examples used by the presenter was “the dress that broke the internet.” Amazingly, my friend had no idea what I was talking about. I pulled up the picture and tried to explain the phenomenon. She saw black and blue. I saw gold and white. She was convinced I was colorblind and I was unsuccessfully trying to describe how this very debate almost caused the internet to melt. I turned to you, the stranger next to me, and hoped with all my might that you were a gold and white person to prove my point. You were! My point made, I turned back and my friend and I continued our discussion. A few moments later you tapped me on the shoulder and we had a very light conversation. I was being nice enough to be polite but reserved enough to ensure that no one would ever get the wrong idea. On your way out you thanked us for including you, we laughed, and all gave a simultaneous “Go Cubs!” shout-out. A half-hour later after we asked for our bill we had to pick our jaws off the floor. We hadn’t done anything special to receive such kindness and now we couldn’t find you to thank you. We walked through the interaction trying to figure out why you had done this. I wished I hadn’t been aloof. I was disappointed in myself but also in the society we live in – one where women often find ourselves expecting the worst. As you left we noticed that you had an adorable picture of a child on your phone - your grandson or perhaps your nephew. We wish we had asked about him. We wished we had engaged more than we did and asked about your family, your life - your story. We asked the waiter for a name to try to thank you but realized it was futile. In a way remaining strangers is what makes this story special. Thank you again and we wish you a life full of the kindness you showed us today.