I LIED TO YOU
It was the only way I thought you would accept my offer.
You and your young son were in front of me in line at Chipotle. Truthfully, I was hungry, staring at the menu, I hadn't noticed you.
But then there was a moment that captured my attention. Your son looked up at you and extended his arms in the adorable request for a hug. Without hesitation, you lifted him into your arms, embraced him and kissed him.
He nuzzled his cheek into yours, eyes closed, smiling. It was so beautiful. I was taken.
My heart beat with memories of my childhood; my single mom and the many ways she made certain I felt loved.
I felt compelled to tell you how beautiful and inspiring the two of you were. I wanted to tell you that you were filling my heart with joy simply by being there... for each other... with such love.
But no. Our culture has taught us that kindness comes with a cost. You would have surely thought I was hitting on you. You would at the very least, feel uncomfortable. So, I held my tongue. It was torture.
Then, an opportunity and a flash of inspiration... wrapped in a lie. I took it.
As you reached for your purse to pay, I handed the cashier my money and said: "That's together with mine." You turned and looked at me.
That's when I lied to you.
I said: "Someone did me a kindness today and asked me to pay it forward. I'd like to pay for your meal." The young woman wrapping up my burrito exploded into an enormous smile as she watched us.
Still in a state of surprise, you quietly said: "Thank you. That's very sweet." I said: "You're welcome." Then I finished paying.
As you left the cashier ahead of me, you turned back and said: "Thank you again, it's really sweet. I'll pay it forward too." I said: "Please do." and we went our separate ways.
I'm sorry I lied. It was the only way I thought you would accept my offer. I needed you to know and FEEL that it wasn't about me trying to get something from you.
What mattered most to me in that moment was kindness. Not credit, or my ego.
I saw a mom loving her son and I just wanted to celebrate that... and you... and him... and that's all.