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A Small Gesture Can Make A Big Impact

If there’s one restaurant I don’t visit enough, it’s Cracker Barrel. There’s just something about it that I love. Ok…there’s quite a few things about Cracker Barrel that I love. The family atmosphere. The old country vibe. That addicting, yet frustrating, golf tee game. And, of course, the food. It had been quite a few years since I visited a Cracker Barrel until I visited the quaint little town of Cumberland, Maryland. I forgot how much food you get for your money. I got the sampler platter: sugar cured ham, chicken and dumplings, roast beef, broccoli, a sweet potato, fruit cup, and corn bread. Shoof, did you eat it all? Welp, for some reason, running my mouth for a living makes me hungry, so…yes. I absolutely D-E-S-T-R-O-Y-E-D every last bite of that amazing meal. No, this isn’t an advertisement for Cracker Barrel and I’m sorry if it’s making you hungry. So, before my dad loses his mind with my seemingly mindless rant about home cookin’, let me pivot to get to my point.

The Impact of Connecting with Others

While I was sitting in the restaurant eating, I looked up and saw a lady who was also eating by herself. She appeared to be in her early 60’s, a slightly stout with neatly-styled, short, curly hair. She was wearing a jacket over a blue nurse’s scrub shirt with cute little multi-colored squiggles. We caught each other’s eyes once or twice, but we both played it off as the old, “Oh, I’m just looking around the room.” I’ve always kind of felt bad for people who eat alone in restaurants. You just never know their stories, but I’m always so curious as to what their stories are. Are they there on business? Are they alone all the time? Are they ok with eating alone? 

As I finished my food, the apparent nurse was in the middle of her meal. I grabbed my sweet berry iced tea and my check, got up and walked over to her table. “Excuse me,” I said. “Do you mind if I sit down for a minute?” Taken aback, she held her hand up to her mouth to hid her chewing and mumbled, “Sure, I don’t care.” I sat down and said, “I don’t know what it is, but I hate to see people eat alone.” She smiled. “What’s your name?” I asked. “Nancy.” “Nancy, I’m Chris. Nice to meet you.” We shook hands. For the next 5 minutes or so, I learned that Nancy is a home health nurse who has moved from Maryland to Virginia and back over the last number of years. For so long, she was a nurse in a cancer wing of a hospital and loved it, but she got burned out after doing it for so long. So she became a home health nurse in the latter years of her career. We had a great conversation. She was such a sweet lady. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, so after chatting for a few minutes, I let her finish her meal in peace.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

I want to challenge you to do something. Actually, no. I dare you. Next time you are in a restaurant, alone or with others, and you see someone sitting alone, either invite them to sit with you, or go sit with them. I dare you. It doesn’t have to be for the whole meal. It can be. Either way, just let them know that they are noticed. I dare you. Everyone has a story. Find out theirs. I dare you. If they don’t want company, it’s ok. But, just ask. I dare you. Get out of your comfort zone. I dare you. You never know what that little gesture will do for someone. I dare you.

About the Author: Chris Scheufele is one of the most sought-after youth speakers in the United States. He’s a comedian with a license to teach. With more than a decade in the classroom, Chris has developed clever interventions that resolve conflicts instantly and promote a culture of resilience.  He makes social emotional learning fun! His entertaining and educational programs have been recognized by educators nationwide, and have earned him several awards including “Teacher Of The Year”.