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Paying it forward

Our family owns a restaurant in the rural lakes area of our state. We have an interesting dilemma. Three times in the past several months, strangers have paid for the meals of other guests they have just met in our dining room.

The first time was for an older couple and when the man who had been chatting with them paid for his meal, he asked our hostess for their check paid for theirs as well and left before he could be thanked.

The second time, a man approached our hostess and said there was a guest wearing a Vietnam Vet's hat and he wanted to buy their meal "just because." He, too, left before he could be acknowledged.

The third time two couples had been chatting across the tables. When one couple was paying their bill, the man put down an extra bill and said he wanted to cover the other couple's meal as well. After they left and the beneficiaries asked for their check, the hostess explained it had been covered. This time our hostess was concerned because the couple appeared to be very uncomfortable, almost insulted, and embarrassed as if the buyer had assumed they were broke.

As far as I'm concerned, we have the nicest customers in the world, but our hostess feels she is being put on the spot and doesn't want to be party to making any of our guests uncomfortable.

What do you think? Has this happened to you? How would you feel? How should our hostess handle this situation in the future?

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  1. I would not feel insulted if this happened to me.

    The hostess should say: "I've heard of people doing this when they strike up very rewarding conversations with strangers. They are surprisingly delighted and want to do something surprisingly nice in return."

    1. Happens all the time, esp. at the drive-thru lanes of fastfood restaurants or Starbucks.

      Good on folks.

      1 Reply
      1. You can't help how the recipient feels. If they don't see the good in an act of kindness, then that's their problem.

        1. I have been on the end of the giving before. I paid for a couple soliders meals at a local restaurant during my lunch one day. The next time I came back to the restaurant, one of the girls told me that they had asked her to give me one of the patches of the American flag to show their thanks.

          1. I think anyone who performs and act of kindness with nobody looking and nobody knowing who they are is the highest form of mitzvah.
            Awesome.