I was irritable. I’m not sure if it was due to the oppressive heat, the stress of all that I needed to squeeze into the afternoon or that I was just plain hungry, but the crowded restaurant walls seemed to be closing in. Uncharacteristically I found myself thinking unkind thoughts about all the people sitting around me that were simply enjoying their lunch.
As Emily, Erin and I waited for our sandwiches at a cozy table for three, a uniformed paramedic came in. After he ordered his lunch, he navigated towards the front counter near our table. No sooner had he gotten there, than a young guy in his teens, dressed in long sweat pants and a hoodie with the hood pulled up over his head, approached him and told him he wanted to thank him for doing his job as a paramedic. He went on to say that his brother had been saved from a fire by a paramedic with the Fire Department, and how much it meant to him. The paramedic graciously thanked him, and it looked like he was truly flattered that this young man had taken a moment to come by and talk to him and show his gratitude.
I sat there with a mouthful of chicken salad sandwich and tried to swallow without letting tears escape. I’m not sure why it touched my heart the way it did, but the kid was so sincere and his heart full of genuine gratitude. My selfish mood was changed, and I felt ashamed of my previous outlook. It also got me to thinking about how, had I not heard this exchange, I would have probably thought that kid was a wanna-be-hoodlum-type. How wrong of an assumption that would have been!