30: Valet Service Extraordinaire

30: Valet Service Extraordinaire

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness

Valet Service Extraordinaire

Kindness is tenderness. Kindness is love, but perhaps greater than love… Kindness is good will. Kindness says, “I want you to be happy.”

~Randolph Ray

We were headed to the nationally famous Blue Owl Restaurant, in historic Kimmswick, Missouri, to celebrate our sixtieth anniversary. On Valentine’s Day, the restaurant offers a sweetheart dinner that is well worth the price. We had decided to indulge ourselves.

The weather report had called for freezing rain, but not until long after midnight. We would be safely home by then. But then, as we approached the restaurant, there was a downpour of freezing rain. We were closer to the restaurant than home so it seemed prudent to proceed in that direction.

By the time we arrived, the street in front of the restaurant was a sheet of ice. The parking lot was also a sheet of ice and in front of each entry ramp was a pool of water. I couldn’t pull in and I knew, even if I parked on the street, we would never be able to get out and walk on that ice.

A lady walked toward us. She called out, “Were you wanting to go in there?” She motioned to the parking lot.

I nodded and said, “We can’t go in there and I don’t think we can walk on the street. My husband recently suffered a stroke and I’m an amputee. I’m afraid we’ll fall.”

That lady happened to be Mary Hostetter, the owner of The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery. She said, “We have the salt truck coming any minute, but that won’t do a lot of good right now.”

Mary quickly came up with a plan. “Just pull the car in front of the restaurant steps and I’ll walk you in. I will park your car for you and you’ll be safe.” I pulled the car up to the bottom of the steps. She locked arms with us, one at a time, and walked us up the steps to the door.

A few minutes later, she handed me our keys, saying, “After you have dinner and when you are ready to leave, give me your keys. I will bring your car out front and put you both back in it.” I was thanking her when she quickly turned and went back to her work as hostess.

The ambiance was warm and romantic. The aroma of delicious foods wafted through the air. All the small dining rooms and tables were cheerfully decorated in red, pink, and white. Cozy would be an understatement. The smiling waitresses were dressed in long blue dresses with ruffles and white aprons. Soon the place was jam-packed.

The food was delicious, as always, and we savored every mouthful. The service was extremely attentive. We were treated as though we were the only ones in the place. We leisurely finished our food and contemplated dessert. We ordered their special chocolate-covered strawberries that were as large as baseballs. They were delicious. We finished our meal with a steaming cup of decaf coffee. Our server was kind enough to snap pictures of the two of us for our memory album. It was an absolutely perfect evening.

We got up to leave and asked the owner if she had a minute to stand with us for a picture. As busy as she was, she cheerfully put her arms around both our waists and smiled for the camera. Seeing that we were ready to leave, she held out her hand and said, “Your keys, please.” I started to protest and told her we would be able to make it out okay. She pushed her hand a little closer and repeated, “Your keys, please.” She left, with our keys, while we put on our coats and went to the front door. She pulled up in front of the restaurant, came back up the stairs, and repeated the drill. She walked both of us, one at a time, to the car and put us safely inside. The salt truck had come while we were having dinner and the street was looking much better.

She waved, smiled and wished us a safe trip home. She turned and disappeared back into the busy restaurant.

Mary had taken the time, on this very busy night, to make sure we were okay. I can see why she is a woman of national fame. She has appeared on many television shows. She and her restaurant have been written up in magazines and newspapers all over the United States, including O, The Oprah Magazine. She’s very famous, and yet, she took time to reach out her hand to two total strangers on one of the busiest nights of the year.

We will never forget her kindness in the face of what could have become a disaster for us. We will remember our sixtieth anniversary dinner fondly, and with a deep respect for a wonderful, kind, and caring human being.

~Joyce E. Sudbeck

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