I was recently between flights in Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, and I stopped into P. F. Chang’s for a bite and a cocktail between flights.  I always order martinis in airports (I’m in Advertising, just be glad I don’t always order three!), and this one was delicious.

Pretty soon a young sailor sat down alone at the next table.  I should have talked to him.  I talk to everyone. But I was weary, so I finished my martini and snack, and when the waitress came with my check, I quietly said, “I’d like to pay the bill for that sailor’s meal.”

You would have thought by her reaction that I had said, “I’d like to buy that sailor a luxury condo.”  She was as happy and thrilled and titillated as I have ever seen anyone in my life.

I signed the credit card receipt for my lunch, and another one for his.  On my way out, I stopped at his table, shook his hand, and said, “Thank you for your service.”

My waitress, and by now the restaurant’s entire wait staff, was standing in a line behind him with such excitement watching me speak to him.  My waitress seemed about to explode with emotion.  The moment the sailor asked her for his check, she was going to KA-BOOM.

I walked out of the restaurant and to my flight, and I didn’t look back.  I know what happened next.  And that thought, that imagined memory of him and her and everyone else there, playing back in my mind over and over, is worth a thousand times the $28 his lunch cost me.

Generosity is always a good idea. Especially to our armed forces.  Pass it on.

Godspeed, sailor, and thank you.