I don’t know the young man or young woman’s name who took our order at the counter of the McDonald’s on the main strip in Gatlinburg, TN that evening, but I remember the feeling I had walking out of the building and showing PR31 the tallest ice cream cone I had ever received for a buck at any McDonald’s.
We were on vacation, and we were splurging for a little treat on a cool October evening. We had walked up and down the strip, enjoying a leisurely time together. We didn’t have to get an ice cream cone. It was just a little something extra to top the night off. And it ended up making our vacation memorable. In fact, it started a little tradition of visiting that McDonald’s on any of our trips to Gatlinburg.
I had no idea that I would walk out of that restaurant with ice cream so tall I thought it might topple off the cone if I tilted it too far one way or the other. That was something the folks in South Louisiana refer to as “lagniappe” (pronounced lan-yap). It means, “a little something extra.” That’s what that person did for us that night… a little something extra. It was kindness.
Kindness is when we do a little something extra for someone… whether they deserve it or not… whether they’ve earned it or not… whether they’ve asked for it or not… whether they paid for it or not. It is an attitude of generosity which goes far beyond money or goods. Sometimes it’s helping out before we’re asked. Sometimes it is paying a compliment to someone who looks to be having a tough day but is doing a good job.
In the Old Testament, King David asked one day if there was anyone from Saul’s family to whom he could show kindness. Saul was his predecessor… and the guy who had tried to hunt him down in order to kill him. And yet David made a choice to be kind to Saul’s family because of his friendship with Saul’s son, Jonathan, and because he wanted to have a right attitude. It’s not that being kind was common. In fact, it wasn’t in that day an time. Most kings wiped out any relatives of their predecessors. So what David did was rare.
Sound familiar? We live in a world where kindness is often a rarity. Some people think it’s antiquated. But I’ve never met a person who didn’t appreciate it. Everyone needs that little something extra… kindness.
So today, let’s tip that waitress a little more than we have to. Let’s take some cookies to a friend or neighbor. Let’s send someone a text just to let them know we think they’re amazing. Let’s spiral the ice cream a little taller on the cone than is expected. You never know… You just might make someone’s day in a way they’ll never forget.