Airmen appreciate targeted act of kindness

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brannen Parrish
  • 931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs
While I waited in a restaurant drive thru, perused the menu and considered the available food options that afternoon, I wasn't paying much attention to the world around me. The car in front of me was just another sports coupe. The driver, just another stranger I would notice momentarily and then permanently banish from my memory. I didn't notice the person in the vehicle in front of me but she noticed the person who appeared in her side-view mirror.

I pulled up to the intercom, rolled down the window and relayed my order. Burger. Drink. Fries. Okay, so it's not the healthiest option in the world but hey, I just scored an 'excellent' on my Air Force fitness assessment. It was my celebration meal!

I reached for my wallet and removed my debit card as the cashier repeated the order. Burger. Drink. Fries. He thanked me for patronizing their establishment and added, "Sir, I just wanted to let you know that the lady in the car ahead of you paid for your order."
What? I momentarily forgot how to formulate a sentence. I was so dumbfounded that I almost thanked the cashier for the driver's good deed. I managed to string together, "Wow, that's awesome. Thanks for letting me know."

Questions immediately flooded my mind: Who was this person? Why would she do that? Do I work with her? Does she know someone I know? Did she hear about me getting an 'excellent' on my fitness test and want help me celebrate?

I drove past the intercom, put on my hat, opened the door and exited my vehicle.
The cashier from the intercom was dispensing her order. He noticed me approaching, as did the driver.

"Hi. I just want to thank you for purchasing my meal for me. That was very kind of you. I really appreciate it," I said, still confused as to why she would be so kind.
"You're welcome," she said. "Thank you, for all you do serving our country."

Wow. Welcome to Derby, Kansas, where a young woman who couldn't have been more than a couple of years out of high school, targets an Airman while committing an act of kindness.

In retrospect, I shouldn't have been so surprised. In 17 years of military service and another 17 years growing up in a military town in the Southeastern United States, I have never witnessed a community that is more supportive of its military neighbors than the people of South Central Kansas.

Since I moved here nearly three years ago, I have been thanked for my service more times than I can remember. Random strangers approach me virtually every time I am off base in uniform simply to shake my hand and share their appreciation for what we military members do. Airmen I know here have relayed similar stories.

So, here's my opportunity to say how much I appreciate all the members of our local communities. I would like to offer my thanks to the young woman who paid for my meal and to the community that helped instill in her that appreciation for military service and neighborly kindness. May we service members never take your support for granted.