Tired of all the headlines shouting out hatred and negativity? I am too. That’s why I’ve decided to add some sunshine to your day with a few stories of goodness happening right here in our town. The first of this series involves an international guest, great food, and even better service. I met up with Antoinette to discuss the problems of the world, but she'd been inspired by a recent kindness. Thinking the world was void of such instances, she glowed as she spoke of her experience. The story begins with an international flight from Nigeria to Chicago and culminates in Champaign at the locally owned The Original Pancake House. Antoinette resides in Lagos, Nigeria and came to visit her Alma Mater in June 2018. While in town, Antoinette enjoys visiting old haunts and among the top places on her list to visit are local bookstores and restaurants. She utilizes MTD during her stay, riding buses to and fro and appreciates how easy it is to navigate this system.

On the afternoon of June 7th, Antoinette decided to make the trek across town from her room in Urbana to the Original Pancake House in Champaign for a late lunch. She arrived via public transit to their door at 1:30 p.m. and was met with a smile and an apology that she could not be served as the kitchen had already closed for the day. “Oh well,” she sighed in her beautiful British lilt, “See you tomorrow, then,” and off she went for the day to seek other adventures.

The following day Antoinette was sure to arrive well before closing time and was greeted by a different employee than the previous day, but with the same courteous attitude and winning smile. As she was seated and handed a menu, her server arrived with a drink in hand for her. She sat sipping her beverage and reviewing the extensive menu, trying to decide between a savory breakfast of eggs and hashbrowns or a sweeter breakfast of waffles with warm butter and maple syrup. Looking up from her menu, her server was again standing at her side ready to take her order. Rather than deciding between the two, she ordered both the waffle and the hash browns. 

Her meal was served hot and fresh, the server kept her cup full, and she was satisfied. Her dishes were cleared away and she sat for a time, looking out the window and waiting for her check to arrive. After a while, she summoned her server asking for her check and the server gladly told her that her bill was taken care of. Antoinette looked around, not seeing anyone seated in the restaurant that she knew, and asked again for the check thinking there must be a mistake. But there was no mistake. Some of the staff had recognized Antoinette from the day before and felt bad at having to turn her away….even though they were officially closed!  Because they “strive to give outstanding service to everyone," according to the manager, Antoinette’s trip to The Original Pancake House started with an international flight and ended with a delectable meal on the house. 

What a difference a small kindness can make. For Antoinette, this experience helped remind her that there are still good people in the world who will do good deeds simply for kindness sake, not expecting recognition or anything at all in return. Appreciation of the small kindnesses in life provides nourishment for the soul to stay strong and press forward during trying times. Any of us can become overwhelmed by the many atrocities facing our nation and our world, and only those able to step back, take a deep breath and find the beauty in the world will be able to stay in this fight for the long haul. 

From the extremely reliable news source Twitter, I have learned the second civil war is coming in November and taking place at the polling stations. So gather your soldiers, march forth and make America the the home you envision it being. Make America Great For Everyone, not just for the select few that would have us divided and leave us infighting so that the masses are more easily controlled. Now, let us stand together on common ground.  Find beauty, love kindness, choose peace. And eat waffles.

Top photo by Brittany Busboom. Other photo from The Original Pancake House website.