Kindness: Everybody Needs It

for the week of July 16, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

Colleen Gallagher hasn't had an easy time of it. She has been struggling to make ends meet as she raises her two sons with no help from their father. She has been working most recently as a waitress in an upscale Chicago bar. What happened to her recently will astound you perhaps even inspire you.

The CEO of an investment company was in the place where Gallagher works on April 24. It was a fairly slow time. In addition to conversation with some of his business associates, John Boc also talked with the woman serving their table. It became apparent to him that she was, in his words, "feeling blue" and discouraged over the tough situation she was facing with her boys.

When it came time to pay, Boc told Ms. Gallagher to add a $1,000 tip to the tab! Stunned and not sure the offer was something other than a cruel joke, she prepared the credit-card slip. Boc signed it. But that's only the beginning.

As tears of gratitude started to pour down the woman's cheeks, Boc pulled some credit cards out of his pocket, fanned them like a hand of playing cards, and told the waitress, "Pick a card." When she reached and took his Platinum Visa in hand, he said, "Take that card and go give yourself $10,000." A flabbergasted Gallagher remembers him saying, "Life's too short to be feeling blue." Indeed, her spirits must have brightened considerably that day with a total of $11,000 in tips.

Strange as it sounds, this astonishing story from the Boston Herald, Reuters, and CNN News isn't the first one about John Boc's generous tips. This one was unusually generous, though, even by his standards. After researching it to be sure there was nothing fraudulent, the credit card company issued a check for the April deed of generosity last week. Ms. Gallagher reportedly plans to use the money toward the purchase of an apartment.

There was no flirting. No request for a phone number. No strings attached. One rich person showed kindness toward a struggling person in his world.

Can't give $11,000 to someone today? Me either! But I can do something thoughtful for someone sick or homebound. You can thank someone for making your workplace more pleasant. I can double or triple the next tip I give. You can write a note to your Sunday School teacher. You can think of appropriate people and creative things to do for them. And be sure not to forget strangers.

Life's too short and too hard for us not to care about one another.

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