Monday, August 26, 2013

A Random Act of Free Lunch

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

This is true. Even if you don't have to pay for it, every meal costs somebody something.

Last Wednesday, I was the unexpected recipient of a free lunch. But I know it wasn't free because I saw the price on the register when the cashier rang it up and I saw the guy in front of me pay for it.

He didn't owe me a favor, I hadn't done an amazing good deed that warranted such a reward and it wasn't any kind of special occasion for me. It was a just regular day when the guy in front of me decided to buy my lunch.

The guy in front of me was David Long.

At the place where I work where I do whatever it is I do, I'm not allowed to use my nom de plume, Dave-El. I have to go by the civilian identity that I use when I am out amongst you ordinary Earth creatures.

Perhaps I've said to much.

Anyway, when I started to work there about 10 years ago, I was only moderately surprised to find there was already a David Long working there. I say "moderately" because to be honest, David Long is not that uncommon a name. There are about 7 David Longs in the city and the surrounding metro area; at least 7, maybe more.

We're a diverse group. The most successful of the David Longs is a district attorney; he gets quoted a lot for various news stories involving crime and stuff. At the other end of the spectrum is a David Long who is ostensibly a house painter with a frequently changing address and an inability to pay his car taxes. Sometimes I get his past due tax notices. I call the county tax office and they're cool, they always fix it when that happens. 

And there is an older fella named David Long who really doesn't like gay people; I know this because he's had letters printed in the local paper decrying how we are all going to hell because of gay people. What I find hard to believe is that people who know me still think that's me. It's really awkward when someone says, "Hey, I saw your letter in the paper. Man, we've got to do something about these gay people" and I have to decide if I want to have that battle with this person then and there about marriage equality. 

But right there in my company is another David Long and he's an OK kind of guy. He's probably a better David Long than I am. He has actual computer skills and knows how to fix things.  We get each other's mail at the office. If it has my name on it but its about a bunch of technical stuff I don't understand, I figure its for him. Likewise, if he gets something he doesn't understand because its not a bunch of technical stuff, he forwards it to me.

We have a running joke that the other is our evil twin. (For the record, we don't look a like at all.)

It was last Wednesday in the company cafeteria where we ran into each other (we really should watch we're walking. Rim shot!) and we immediately fell into our "evil twin" banter. He had just a cup of coffee (another difference in that I do not drink coffee) as we got in line to pay the cashier; he was ahead of me. Then David told her, "You know, it's only right that David Long should pay for David Long's lunch, right?" The cashier saw what I had, rang it up and before I could react, David Long had bought my lunch.

For no good reason other than the kindness of his heart.

OK, I'm definitely the evil twin now.

But in all seriousness, I am still amazed several days later at this act of kindness and generosity. It was such a simple thing to do yet it made such an impact.

I sometimes I feel like I'm invisible in this world. Does anyone notice me? Do I matter? There's usually no good reason to think that but, sadly, that's how my mind is wired and I struggle to resist jumping on that train of thought every day. Some days are harder than others.

But then something like this happens and it takes all the steam out of that train's engine.

For me, that free lunch is something of great value.

I hope I never forget it.

And maybe I will do the same for someone one day.

Thanks to David Long from your "evil twin."

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

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