When You Least Expect It …

There are times when negativity descends upon us like the evening dew and consistently bad news weighs heavily on all of us. Then, unexpectedly, something happens that quickly and quietly restores your faith in the world we live in.

That happened to me last week. It was Veterans Day, and I couldn’t help but
notice that everyone seemed to be well aware of it—much more so than
in years past.

You could see it and hear it everywhere … radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Everyone seemed to be showing support and appreciation to our military “Heroes and She-roes” … both past and present.

That day I received an unexpected phone call from an old friend I haven’t heard from in years. We chatted for a while, and he suggested that we meet at one of our local Applebee’s Restaurants as they were providing free meals for Veterans in honor of the holiday.

I seldom get the opportunity to do something “spur-of-the-moment” like that, and I hadn’t seen my friend for ages so I agreed to meet him.

Walking into that restaurant was like entering the “Twilight Zone.” I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The free meal was nice, of course, as Applebee’s provides a terrific offering and the ambiance is uniquely ‘hometown.”

However, today was different. The place was packed, and I recognized no one other than my old friend. However, I felt as though I actually knew everyone in the restaurant. My friend and I quickly caught up on old times and suddenly found ourselves totally immersed in our surroundings.

What we witnessed was heartwarming and almost indescribable. Veterans were getting up from their seats to introduce themselves to other Veterans. Some in uniform … most in civies. They were shaking hands, hugging, and chatting as though they had known one another forever … even though they had just met.

Civilians were approaching Veterans and shaking their hands as they thanked them for their service … some even hugged the Veterans with tears in their eyes.

The waiters, waitresses, and bartenders were hurriedly seating and serving everyone and yet took the time to treat customers as though this was a very special day to honor very special people … and it was just that!

I must admit that this was one of those rare “lump in the throat,” “tears in the eyes,” “warmth in the heart” moments that so quickly changes your entire outlook on life.

We were there less than an hour, but the memory will last forever. I shared some quality time with a fellow Veteran I haven’t seen for far too long … I watched a community of strangers come together as a family obviously blinded to prejudice of any kind … I saw warm smiles and heard friendly laughter as everyone seemed to easily forget negative thoughts of the economy, politics, joblessness, and the many other aspects of our current distress.

For a few precious moments, there was no age difference, no skin color, no religion, no politics, no ethnicity … just proud Americans sharing respect, support and appreciation … and loving every minute of it!

I shared a final hug with my friend, promised him we’d do this again soon, and, as we walked to our cars, wondered why every day couldn’t be like Veterans Day, 2010. My thanks to Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar for accomplishing something in one afternoon that our government hasn’t been able to accomplish in quite some time.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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