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To the Wendy's Employee at the Drive-Through

I think you saw something in my eyes. I believe you noticed something was off and you led with what you, clearly, knew best: kindness.
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Dear Wendy's Drive-Through Employee,

I wanted to stop my day to write you a thank-you note. I came through your drive-through line-up last Thursday. I was frazzled, disorganized, and I think I may have even run over part of the curb while making the round turn after placing my order at the loudspeaker.

You might remember me; I was the one who pulled up to the pick-up window, reached for my wallet, and realized I didn't have it. I was the woman in the black SUV with the little girl in the backseat screaming about how much she loves chocolate Frostys.

You may remember my face -- I looked at you with an embarrassed expression and said: "Never mind, I just realized I forgot my wallet, I am so sorry."

You may remember saying to me, "Ma'am, you came here to eat, and you will do just that. We will serve you," as you handed over the bag of food we had ordered, chocolate Frosty and all. You may remember handing it over with a genuine smile, and telling me: "Don't you worry, you come back another day and pay us for this; it happens, no worries! Have a wonderful day."

However, what you likely don't know is how you touched my life that day.

The reason I was in your drive-through line at 11:30 a.m., frazzled and disorganized, with a school-aged child in tow, was because nine schools received school shooting and bomb threats in our city that morning. You were prepping for a busy lunch shift, so I doubt that you knew that.

You didn't know the reason I didn't have my wallet with me was that the moment I saw the news that nine schools had received bomb and school shooting threats, I darted out of the house as fast as I could to grab my daughter from school, remembering only my car keys and my shoes.

You definitely didn't know that I surely wasn't 100 percent mentally present at the time I came through your drive-through. My heart was nearly skipping beats, as I was happy to have my daughter with me, safe -- but yet still so scared of what our world has come to.

However, I think you saw something in my eyes. I believe you noticed something was off and you led with what you, clearly, knew best: kindness.

What you also might not know is that you, your words, and your kind and genuine gesture reset my equilibrium that day.

My mind was going 4,000 miles an hour, thinking about all the awful things in this world -- thinking that, even though I was able to grab my daughter from school that day, what if the following day had a repeat of the same events; the same threats made to the same schools, or worse, someone actually following through with one of those threats?

When you stopped for that brief moment and smiled at me and told me not to worry, to just come back another day when I was in the area to pay my bill, you restored my faith in humanity. You knew nothing about what was going on in my life in that moment. You could have given me a look of irritation, you could have asked me to run home and grab my wallet, you could have done a lot of things, but you didn't. You were kind.

You reminded me in that moment -- sweaty-palmed, wallet-less, dazed, with a child screaming in the backseat about the glory that is the Wendy's Chocolate Frosty -- that there is so much more good in this world than bad, and there was not a time, nor a place, when I needed that more.

So thank you. Thank you for your kindness, your empathetic gesture that you delivered with a genuine smile. Thank you for reminding me that while there is bad in this world, there is so much more good that outweighs it. You are part of that good. While your gesture may have seemed small to you, it was astronomical to me; you reset my balance that day, and in some weird way, I believe I was meant to drive through that line and cross paths with you at that moment -- maybe just for that simple reminder that the good truly does outweigh the bad.

Thank you again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Ashley Alteman

P.S. I have that $6.12 for the Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, medium Coke, and, of course, the small chocolate Frosty.

Ashley Alteman is the writer behind, where she details her laugh-out-loud parenting and personal fails. Ashley also writes for and can be found rambling about dinosaurs and her wild child, "Barb Marley," on Facebook.

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