No Extra Charge

By Joseph J. Mazzella • August 31, 2023

It was years ago but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was driving my daughter to the nearest airport to take a trip. It was a 3 hour round trip so after dropping her off at the airport my sons and I stopped at a McDonalds to have lunch. We grabbed a booth and I went up to order our food. Most of the workers there were teenagers just going through the motions of the job, cranking out the food like an assembly line. Working the cash register, however, was an older lady. She was 70 if she was a day. Her gray hair was permed, her glasses hung loosely on her nose, and she looked like everybody’s grandma. Each person that came up to give their order was given a huge smile of hers in return with a few kind words thrown in. It warmed my heart to see how she brightened up the whole restaurant with her good cheer. When it was my turn to order I smiled back and told her that she had the sweetest smile I’d ever seen. She laughed, patted me on the hand and said, “No extra charge, Sweetie!”

When I was driving home I could still feel her loving-kindness in my heart and see her smile in my mind. And I could feel my own face smiling too. When we drove back to pick up my daughter a few days later, we stopped at the McDonalds again. I looked for the lady with the sweet smile but she was no where to be seen. Maybe she wasn’t working that day or maybe she had moved on to bless others with her smile somewhere else. Either way I wished her well. Remembering our brief encounter always brings a smile back to my face.

It is funny how we work so hard to get money to buy things but the things we want the most can’t be bought. They are freely given and joyfully received. Love, smiles, hugs, laughter, intimacy, happiness, joy, and connection are all free of charge. They are the gifts God gives us and the gifts we give each other. May we always share and delight in them.


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