The concept of paying it forward is not foreign to most people. The urge to make someone else’s life even a tiny bit better, with no expectation of reward in return, is one that’s pretty much ingrained in humanity.
Sean Whalen is one individual who decided to document the backstory that led up to his wanting to pay it forward to one particular waitress after dinner one evening. Sean’s story is quite compelling, and digs into the heart, especially among those who have felt the pain of divorce, or who grew up with a single parent.
It’s best let Sean tell his story, though. After all, his words are the ones careening across the Internet right now, giving everyone just a little more faith in this world.
“I’ll never forget the cops handing me a black trash bag saying I had 10 minutes to take the necessities. I loaded up all the clothes I could fit into the bag, and that was the last time I ever stepped foot into the house I was raised in. No baseball trophies.”
“I still to this day don’t know how she did it. I have no idea how she didn’t throw in the towel at times. I would have. I remember vividly walking past her room countless nights seeing her on her knees praying. I can only fathom what those conversations were like between her and God. I can only fathom the amount of tears that poured down this sweet woman’s face as she pleaded with God for a break. I have felt some intense pain in my day. I’ve questioned many things, but this single mom with two boys never gave up. She never one time gave up.”
“I only began to realize what mom went through working multiple jobs when I became a single parent. I never understood when I was younger the grind and effort she put in for me and my little brother. She hustled. She worked her [butt] off to just get by. She did everything she could so that my brother and I had everything we ever wanted. But she worked man. Hard.”
“Tonight as my son and I sat at this little crappy Chinese joint we love, there was a new waitress. She was absolutely fantastic and kept complimenting my son on his manners. We ate our dinner. Over small talk and water refills, I got the sense that this single mom didn’t want to be there, but had to be there and she was doing her best to smile. It tore my heart out. I thought of my mom, and I saw the same hustle in this woman that I saw in my mom. A single mom. Maybe by choice. Maybe not.”
“But working on a Wednesday night to ensure she can put food on the table and shoes on the kids feet. Not for opulence. Not for status. But to live. To hopefully be able to provide the things for her kids that will put a smile on their face. I empathized with her. I felt her pain. I kept thinking of my mom and how difficult it is for a single woman to go from homemaker to bread-winner. I can’t even begin to understand what that must be like for some moms. I know my tip won’t pay her rent. I know my tip won’t pay for kids braces. I know my tip won’t keep the fridge full. But I hoped tonight in some way it might put a smile on her face, and she can go home to her babies happier than when she left them. I don’t know her whole story. I don’t need to. I felt tonight that maybe along the way someone did this for my mom, and that’s what kept her going on nights she wanted to quit. I don’t know. I’ll likely never know.”
“But I do know this. I have been blessed beyond measure, and my mother paved the way for my persistence. She showed me how to bounce back. She showed me what work and effort is. I hope this small gesture with my son tonight brightens this woman’s life so she can wake up tomorrow and fight a good fight. Single moms who grind…. RESPECT. You are beautiful and your [children] will learn from your efforts. They are watching you. Just as I watched my mom. Mom, I love you. You are my hero.”
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