I was driving home after a visit with a friend and was thirsty, but the usual bottle of water that I keep at the arm rest of my seat was empty. So I decided to stop at the Boston Market and get some iced tea. As I entered the restaurant and was walking towards the counter I noticed a young boy, in his very early teens, standing and talking to a woman who was seated and facing him. She was saying, “Go to the cashier and ask her for the coupon book!” The boy was a fine-looking youngster with strong, nice-looking features. No one would have guessed or even paid any mind to what I knew. I had seen this scenario many times before. I knew from the way she spoke that the concerned woman was an attendant from a group home and the boy with her had a mild case of autism, and what he wanted were the discounts that were in the coupon book for their group home.
As the cashier placed my cup of iced tea on the counter, I noticed that boy was waiting on line in back of me. After I paid for my iced tea and stepped aside, the boy walked up to the cashier and asked her politely, as if he had rehearsed what he was going to say but wasn’t confident in his approach. “Can I have... a coupon book, please?” The young cashier hesitated, and said, “They’re not free!” The boy accepted the rejection like a man but he couldn’t hide the deep disappointment that was in his face as he began walking back to the table where the woman attendant was seated. I then walked up to the cashier and said, “Give me one of those coupon books!” as I handed her a 10-dollar bill. At that point, the manager, who must have been watching and reading my mind, said while smiling, “Don’t take his money, give him the book!” I took the coupon book and walked over to the boy and touched his arm, and as he turned to face me, I said, “This is for you!” as I handed the book to him. His face lit up with a surprised happy look, and he said, “Thanks, mister!” and the woman at the table smiled at me, and I said while turning and pointing, “Thank that manager, he’s the one who gave it to you!” I knew then that I had seized the moment and done the absolute right thing.
After finding an empty table across the room, I glanced over at the manager who was looking at me and nodding with approval. I returned the gesture.
I couldn’t help feeling good as I sat there sipping my iced tea.
By David. S. Weinstein