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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Woman in the Red Coat

Pin It Once a month I organize ‘The Breakfast Club’—a traditional gathering of teachers that all used to work together at my first school. Funny that I should say ‘my first school’ when I’ve only been a certified teacher at two.

On this particular Saturday I chose The Cracker Barrel as our meeting place. This was mostly because it was a place we hadn’t gone to yet, and it’s variety that adds the zing into daily life.

We were seated amid the hubbub of dozens of conversations that rained about us with the clinking of plates and silverware. We perused the menus, and made our selections. Soon afterward our meals arrived, and we began to enjoy the wonderful food before us, all drenched in frothy butter and rich maple syrup.

Just the way food should be…

As we were eating, one of the teachers noted a silvery-haired woman in a red coat; she was seated with her daughter and granddaughter at a table near ours. He identified her as a retired member of the school board, who had always been going to bat for teachers. He told us all about how amazing she was, and about the positive difference she’d made in the school district.

I decided to go and thank her. I approached her table and, after a few moments, we were laughing together—having remembered many of the same people and things in the educational circles in which we’d both worked. At one point, she turned to our table and said something to the effect of:

“You people are doing the greatest job of all time, working with children. I salute you and the work that you do. You’ll have no idea just how much good you’re doing in this world…”

I was flattered.

We all were.

A few minutes later we returned to our table-bound worlds. My friends and I continued our conversations and simply enjoyed each other’s company.

The waitress who’d brought our bills only a few minutes before returned, saying that she needed to ‘borrow’ them for just a moment—she assured us that she was not adding anything to them, but just needed to see them again.

It wasn’t long before we were ready to leave, but still awaiting our bills. Our waitress finally returned, smiling as wide as Christmas and said, “Your meals have already been paid for by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. You have a great day, now.”

All eyes fell to the silvery-haired woman in the red coat, now absorbed in deep conversation with her daughter.

We were all speechless.

The woman gave no hint as to what she’d done. She expected no thanks or repayment. She’d wanted to remain anonymous.

As a collective group we decided not to mention what she’d done—because like I said before, she’d wanted to remain unidentified. As we left though, we did thank her for the years she’d spent fighting for the rights of educators.

Her twinkling eyes and rosy smile sent us all on our way.

I’m still smiling, even now.


Chrissy said...

Wow, I bet that will stay w/you and your friends forever...I know that if I ever was in the same situation I would pay the meal of a teacher that made a difference in my life... I still remember a few and wished I could see them again.

Richard & Natalie said...

Awesome- your account and her good deed!

PMC said...

ok, that is just cool. score one for some of the best people in our midst. woohoo!

Amy said...

Ah! That made my day just reading it!

Linn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel said...

You know! The other day I was in a dive of a restaurant (the best kind) and lo and behold two young men in dark suits, white shirts, and ties, with badges on their pockets came to pay for their lunch and the cashier said, "No charge. Someone paid for your lunch!" And now this story.

Gosh I just love it when people do stuff like this! Makes those who are working in the trenches day in and day out feel like they can face another day because someone believes in them and supports them!

I love stories like this. People quietly going about their business doing good for others....not needing the lime light....remaining anonymous.

When I've been the receiver of gifts like this I'm terrible though. I wanna know who did it so I can thank them. I feel like if I can't thank them then they won't know how grateful I am....it's a tough one for me. I love to be the anonymous giver but when someone gives to me...I don't want them to be anonymous.....

I have issues.........

Rachel said...

Another thought: Yes, the lady in the red trench coat did an incredible thing but there is also a player here that did an incredible thing. You could have sat at your table and thought, "Cool!" and continued talking to your friends. But you didn't. You got up...and you went over and thanked the lady in the red trench coat for her time and service.....so really......there's two heros in this story!

Mamma has spoken said...

What a great story and it brought tears to my eyes! I love the fact that you went to her first to thank her for what she had done prior for teachers. So many times, as an educator, we forget to thank those who do fight for us. I needed to hear this story so much today. My state has made a major cut in education, hurting those who will be our future. I've lost focus that there are still those out there who aren't teachers who will fight for us and our students.

Teachinfourth said...

Chrissy - It's something that I won't soon forget, I'll tell you that.

Natalie - The world needs more people like this; not necessarily giving out free meals, but just being secretly kind.

Mist - We could always use another point or two for the human race.

Amy - Thanks for reading. It made our day having it happen.

Linn - It makes me want to run out and be nice to people just because.

Rachel - I'm with you; I feel that if I can't thank them, they won't know just how much I appreciated it.

As for the 'other hero' I don't know as if I'd go as far as to say that. However, I know that I appreciate it when people notice the things I've done.

We all love to be appreciated.

Bonnie - It's good to have reminders of the people in our lives that really have our best interests at heart.

Gerb - It's just sad that it's the bad news that sells the newspapers...

Lori said...

What a great story, and what a great lady. I love that you took the initiative and thanked her for her part in education--that had to have been so encouraging.

VA, and now Bedford County (the 4th lowest-paying county in the state, btw) is making huge education cuts right now...BC is actually closing down several schools, not to mention the 70+ teachers that will be laid off. I hate to see it.

tammy said...

I love this. What a great thing for her to do. I think that good teachers really do make the difference in all of our lives, and you can always tell the ones that teach because they love it and want to make a difference, and those that just show up. Thanks for all you do!

Bee said...

This is a great story! I love the Cracker Barrel's breakfast. Their best breakfast is not on the menu anymore, but it's still in the computer. You should order it sometime: it's called Grandma's Sampler. Yummy!!!!

Kathy V said...

I feel the same way as the woman in the red coat feels.
Thanks to all of you.

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