While I waited in a restaurant drive-through recently perusing the menu, I wasn’t paying much attention to the world around me. I didn’t notice the person in the vehicle ahead of me, but she noticed the person who appeared in her side-view mirror.
I pulled up to the intercom, rolled down the window and relayed my order. As I reached for my wallet and removed my debit card, the cashier thanked me for patronizing the establishment and added, “Sir, I just wanted to let you know that the lady in the car ahead of you paid for your order.”
What? I was so dumbfounded that I almost thanked the cashier for the driver’s good deed. I managed to string together, “Wow, that’s awesome. Thanks for letting me know.”
I drove past the intercom, put on my hat, opened the door and exited my vehicle.
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The cashier from the intercom was dispensing the driver’s order. He noticed me approaching, as did the driver.
“Hi. I just want to thank you for purchasing my meal for me. That was very kind of you. I really appreciate it,” I said, still confused as to why she would be so kind.
“You’re welcome,” she said. “Thank you for all you do serving our country.”
Wow. Welcome to Derby, where a young woman who couldn’t have been more than a couple of years out of high school targets an airman while committing an act of kindness.
In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. In 17 years of military service and another 17 years growing up in a military town in the southeastern United States, I have never witnessed a community that is more supportive of its military neighbors than the people of south-central Kansas.
Since I moved here nearly three years ago, I have been thanked for my service more times than I can remember. Random strangers approach me virtually every time I am off base in uniform simply to shake my hand and share their appreciation for what we military members do. Airmen I know here have relayed similar stories.
So here’s my opportunity to say how much I appreciate all the members of our local communities. I would like to offer my thanks to the young woman who paid for my meal and to the community that helped instill in her that appreciation for military service and neighborly kindness. May we service members never take your support for granted.