The following true story was told to me by a friend a few years ago. My friend had left a corporate job with a six-figure annual salary to become a teacher of middle school and high school students. The first year was difficult, but after that he came to love his job, and the students trusted him enough to share their thoughts and experiences openly.
In a high school psychology class, my friend asked his students to share experiences that illustrated how a single individual can make a profound difference in the lives of others. One student, a 16-year-old girl who worked part-time as a server in a chain restaurant, told of how a young woman had come in one evening with a year-old baby. Typically a server would groan about this, because babies tend to be messy and single moms often don't have the means to leave a large tip. This girl did not groan, but made a point of making sure the woman and her child had an enjoyable evening. She set them up at a good table, put the child in a high chair and gave him things to play with, and served every course cheerfully. The woman ordered not just a meal, but appetizers, special drinks, and desserts. She ended up being there for hours, and the server (who fortunately did not have many tables to attend to that night), spent a lot of time talking with the mom, playing with the child, and going out of her way to make sure they were well taken care of.
Finally, it was almost closing time at the restaurant, and the server left the check on the table and went into the kitchen to do some cleanup tasks. When she returned to clear the table, and woman and child were gone. The woman had left not just a good tip, but a note – a note revealing that the meal had indeed been special, because she had intended for it to be her last meal! Distraught about circumstances in her life, she was planning to leave the restaurant and then kill her child and herself. The server's kindness, compassion, and attentiveness had led her to change her mind. What had once seemed a cold, dark world now looked a little brighter. The student never saw the young woman again, but it was clear that the experience had changed her life as well. She kept the woman's note, as one of her most cherished possessions, and brought it to class with her the day she shared the story.
Stories of this nature often are passed along as motivational "urban legends" that may or may not reflect actual occurrences. This one does.
Alexi Paulina's ebooks are available at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/alexi3