Kindness: The Guy From the Sandwich Shop

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

I walked into the place. It was bright, clean, and not crowded at all, just a couple at one table and another man sitting by himself at a corner booth. The smell of grilled thin slivers of steak mixed with peppers and onions filled the air. As I approached the counter, I could smell the cold cuts and fresh veggies piled into neatly arranged silver containers. 

A young woman working the griddle busily tossed the meat mixture from side to side. The young man approached me. He was normal looking. I mean, rather average. I mean, he wasn’t some big buff dude. He wasn’t anything like the type of men that many romance books describe as tall, chiseled, broad shouldered, etc.  No, he was none of that, he was, well, normal looking.

He wore his required cap over short, cropped hair. His face was clean, bright, not pocked, red, or dried out from too much partying or drinking.  A thin beard covered his chin and jaw, no mustache.  He wore thick wire framed glasses. His almond shaped eyes were bright, not bloodshot, or tired looking. He was thin, probably not an ounce of fat on him. There was a small tattoo on the side of his wrist which I couldn’t read.

He approached me and quite standardly asked what I would like. I placed my order and he was quite friendly in an, again, standard sort of way, assuring me that my order would be “right up.”  So, I stood at the counter as he prepared my sandwich and I spaced off, my mind on things work-related. That’s when he asked me how I wanted my toppings.

I remember just staring at him, as if he spoke a foreign language.  “Pardon me?” I asked, feeling quite stupid. He repeated his question, whether I wanted all the toppings.  I told him ‘yes’ and then apologized, admitting my mind was elsewhere.

He smiled at me then and it was a truly beautiful smile, heartwarming and endearing.  He voiced his understanding and he started some small talk with me, about long workdays, and the traffic outside.  He kept on talking while focusing on the sandwich making while I listened and smiled.

Then he looked up at me and said he made a mistake and made my sandwich the regular size rather than the mini I had requested.  He said that he would only charge me for the mini since it was his mistake.  He said it all so quickly wearing that endearing smile and, in that moment, I realized, he was actually gorgeous.

I told him it was alright and thanked him.  He wrapped my sandwich and handed it to me and told me the other one, which I had ordered for my husband, would be ready shortly.  I thanked him again, then he moved on to serve the next customer who had come in.

Standing off to the side, I watched as he served the next person. I had forgotten about my workday and couldn’t keep my eyes off this young man, not that I was crushing on him.  What I saw was a beautiful person with a beautiful spirit who in his “normalness” was able to pull me out of my pool of temporary anxieties and work-related concerns.  I had to look away.  After all, I didn’t want to be that weird middle-aged woman gawking at young men. 

He most likely has no idea of the effect he had on me in those brief moments.  He was just doing his job, providing good customer service, but he uplifted me, and the rest of my day was spent in that happier place of mind.  In fact, here I am, days later still thinking about this.

So, we never know what impact we have on others in our daily actions, even the simplest ones, even when it feels like we’re just going through the motions at times.  Be kind.

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