“I don’t care where we eat or what; I just want to be outside.” It was a gorgeous summer Sunday in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood. Solo cups and tubs of hummus bounced around in my tote bag from my boyfriend Andy and I’s Central Park picnic. Robert Glasper Experiment, Phony Ppl, and Tank and the Gangas had just finished up a free show at the park’s Rumsey Playhouse, and I was still buzzing from the water bottle of wine we’d shared and the rare low humidity. I wasn’t ready to go home. As we walked back toward our apartment, admiring the plethora of patio choices in our new neighborhood, I noticed a funny sandwich board in front of The Penrose. It depicted a male avocado telling a crying female avocado that he was calling her the “good kind of fat.” “This bar is supposed to have amazing cocktails. I’ve been dying to come since we moved up here. And they’re apparently funny, too. Let’s come here next weekend for a drink.”
An Awesome Summer FindNot too far from the indoor Penrose, I noticed the Five Mile Stone. Their second-floor terrace was cozy with a slender wrap-around balcony showing just a few tables, offering a quieter Sunday Funday retreat away from the sidewalk noise. “There!” I pointed to an open table on the terrace, running into the restaurant before Andy could even answer. The hostess gave us a big smile, grabbing two menus and leading us up the stairs. We were almost out the door onto the terrace when a pretty young brunette sipping a beer on her own tapped the hostess’ arm. “Not to be a pain, but my waitress told me I could have this table once it was cleaned off.” The hostess nodded and apologized to Andy and I. “Sorry, I wasn’t aware the table had already been given away. Can I seat you somewhere indoors but near a window?” Andy and I deliberated with our eyes, not even needing to say words to come to our conclusion. “We’ll come back another time. It’s too nice to be inside today.” Just as we were turning our backs, the brunette spoke up. “Wait! You know what. It’s okay. I’m on my own anyway and just having a beer. I’m okay to just stand out there and enjoy the sun without the table. You have it.” While I’ll argue with anyone who says New Yorkers are mean (we’re not!), you certainly don’t see this level of generosity or random acts of kindness every day. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Absolutely,” she replied, with a genuine smile.
An Unlikely New York MomentAndy and I settled into the patio table. The hostess told us they were a bit backed up at the moment, so service would be slower than usual. She recommended I order drinks at the bar to give the waitress some extra time. I grabbed my bag and headed to the bar, when I noticed the brunette still sitting alone inside. “Hey! That was really nice for you to give us the table. Why don’t I buy you a beer and you come hang with us?” Now it was her turn to look surprised. Again, these interactions aren’t an all-the-time occurrence in the big city. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Absolutely,” I replied, this time the one giving her a genuine smile. It wasn’t long before the table was covered in beers, salmon tostadas and other tasty appetizers. Plastic cups of IPA were toasted before an evening of conversation ensued. We talked about our cats and jokingly suggested a kitty play date (our cat “Killer Cliff” doesn’t play nice). We spoke about travel, ranted about rent prices and shared a love for mezcal. Which got us talking about our favorite cocktail bars. “Andy and I are huge cocktail people,” I told her. “Mayahuel and Pegu Club are favorites, though we experiment a lot at home. We’re even making our own bitters right now.” “Oh, if you love cocktails you’ve got to come to where I work. Have you heard of The Penrose?” I sat with my mouth wide open. What were the chances that this girl would work at the #1 item on my cocktail bar bucket list? “I literally was just saying I wanted to go to The Penrose. I can’t believe you work there!” “I’ve been working there for about a year now. I love it. Come on a Tuesday or Thursday night when I’m on the schedule and I’ll make sure you get taken care of.” Apparently buying a drink for someone could open more than just romantic doors in NYC.
“Paying It Forward”Eventually, the night came to an end and Andy and I began our walk home. “Tonight was so much fun. See what happens when you pay it forward?” He smirked. “Tonight was fun. Also, you don’t know what ‘pay it forward’ means.” “Well, whatever it’s called when people toss around random acts of kindness and then get tipsy together over guacamole; I like it.”
Share your own stories of random acts of kindness — both at home and on the road — in the comments below!
Further Exploration:No Car Required: An Awesome NYC Walk From Manhattan To Brooklyn [Blog Inspiration] 100 Days Of Kindness [Great Reads] Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments [Travel Safety]
Want to live your best life through travel?
Subscribe for FREE access to my library of fun blogging worksheets and learn how to get paid to travel more!