Or, I should say, I was a group of teenagers’ angel- or so they told me.
I have to give you a little backstory first: last December, John and I went to Walt Disney World for a vacation. We had the Disney dining plan that works roughly like this: you get 1 snack credit, 1 counter service restaurant, and 1 sit down restaurant per day. A snack is things under $5; counter service is just what it says: you go up and get your meal and take it to a table. You can actually use these credits any way you want: eat at all sit down meals one day or whatever.
John caught a horrible cold in the middle of the vacation and had to stay in bed for a few days. He’d rest all day and get up for a few hours at night, hoping the next day would be better. It’s how he spent the last 3 full days of our vacation. One side effect of this was: he wasn’t using his dining credits, so we had 6 extra counter service ones. That Thursday, he told me to go to a park, let him rest, and we discussed that since we had extra credits, I would “buy” someone lunch. I pictured some couple that was there in line behind me, and I would cover their meal. On my way to the Animal Kingdom, I figured out just how many credits we had extra at this point; there was no way we could use them all up unless we ate every hour — and John was hardly eating at all.
Lunch time came and I stopped at Pizzafari. Two teen boys were ahead of me in line, wearing t-shirts from some school, and I noticed them checking their money, then checking the menus to see what they could afford. I flashbacked to a lot of school trips; Mom would give me some money for the day, and it was the classic budgeting act of what I could afford for lunch and hopefully a souvenir. Most of us have been there.
I asked the boys if they were on the Disney dining plan, since if they were, it’d be pointless for me to offer them credits. They looked at me like I had made up an alien language and expected them to understand it. I took that as a no.
I noticed a couple more teens ahead of them in the same shirts and thought, oh great: it’s a class of 37 – how can I single out a few? I asked them: how many of you are together? The one boy answered: Six.
Perfect! With one meal, I took care of our extra credits and fed some teens. I tried explaining what I was doing, but talking about credits etc. was too confusing for one statement. So I made it simple:
“It means your lunch is free.”
They understood that! And like well raised, SMART kids, they quickly said, “You got to tell Mrs. —“. Because they knew she was in charge, she’d have to approve it, AND she was about to pay some money. They helped me along by telling their buddies to MOVE so I could get quickly to the front of the line and tell their teacher.
That was a moment of chaos because she was ordering and so were 2 more boys; I had to explain to her while in the same breath tell the cast member (Disney employee) what was going on. Luckily, the cast member reassured the teacher that 1) this was for real 2) there was no strings attached and underlying this, I’m sure was 3) I wasn’t a flake trying to be skeevy to her charges. The teacher blinked and then stared at me: Are you sure about this? I explained again that she and the boys were helping me out by not letting those credits go to waste.
The teacher then HUGGED me while exclaiming, “Thank you! Thank you!” I was stunned; when I had pictured doing this, I expected a friendly thank you and a smile. But this! She explained to the boys followed by, “Santa came early!” The boys started chorusing “We love you!”
The cast member told them this meant that their drinks were now automatically the largest (the boys were budgeting for small), they could get whatever they wanted because the credits don’t have a price limit (one guy yelled excitedly, “I could get spaghetti and meatballs?!!”), and then they heard they also got DESSERT. This earned me more choruses “We love you!”. LOL!
The cast member said, “You boys have a Christmas angel.” to which they replied, “And we LOVE her!” The teacher hugged me again and a couple of the boys did too. We were one happy band of people, the six of them, me, and that cast member, calling things out and bouncing in our shoes!
As they were walking away, I heard the teacher say, “This means we can now stop at McDonald’s on the way home!” which got a resounding cheer from the boys, of course. I mean, tell school kids they can stop at a fast food place and they’re your loyal army! I deliberately sat in a different room than them, so they didn’t feel obligated to keep talking to me or anything.
I sat at my table, eating my lunch, with the biggest smile on my face. The other people probably thought I just got out of the mental hospital on some good meds. I was on a joyous high the whole day. Even the cast member was really excited; so excited, she forgot to ask me for my order! LOL!
I wonder sometimes what the boys did with the money they saved at lunch: buy themselves something cool from the gift shop maybe? Since they were teenage boys, they most likely ate an hour after that. 😉
John would tease me the rest of the trip: hey, there’s 30 people headed for lunch. Why don’t you give them our credits? What a comedian…. 😀
He also said I shouldn’t tell the story, because it’s like tooting my own horn, and I see his point. But I honestly believe those six people gave me more than I gave them. After all, what did I do? Just make sure something wasn’t going to waste; I didn’t pull out cash from my pocket and give it to them.
But what they gave me is so much joy, excitement, and happiness, that it was HUGE. Much, much more than I expected and it makes me happy every time I think about that moment. You should have seen them and heard their voices. I can relive it clearly, and it makes me feel good. What a great gift.
So sorry, honey, but:
And thanks to that merry field trip group: you made my day…. each time I remember you.