Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Night an Angel Came to Bowl

The bowling alley was packed. The line kept building up as more groups came, waiting for lanes to become available. Our family was just lucky enough to have made it in time, before the crowds started to pour in.

To the right of our lane was a group of friends in their late 20s. To our left was another family with small children. Noah was clearly enjoying the game and I remember feeling tired in spite of the fun. My son just kept going, eager to learn how to throw the ball properly, while I kept wishing the two games would end soon. Beyond ten frames, my arm and shoulder felt significantly weaker and each swing just got sloppier and sloppier to the point where my seven year old was scoring better than I was.

Just when I was starting to feel crappy and thought the night was becoming too boring for me, a young ladyin her late 20s perhapsapproached my son. I'm not sure if she was part of the group to our right or if she was just seated on the bar stools behind our lane but where ever she came from, she singled out my son. In her hands was a HUGE pile of arcade tickets. I can't even begin to tell you how many tickets she had but it almost seemed like she had an entire roll. It was so unbelievable that for a moment I thought she worked there and just grabbed the tickets from the back office!

"Do you want these?", she asked my son with her kind, friendly voice.

My son was standing roughly three feet away from me and I could see that he was too stunned to respond. He stretched his arms to receive the tickets as I heard my husband, who was standing next to him, say, "Sure! Thank you!"

As the lady started to walk away, I thanked her too and reminded my son to say thanks as well.  

"Oh, you're welcome!", she said with a sweet smile.

Image by: Lisa Padilla

Noah still couldn't believe what had just happened and said, "Mama, at first I thought she was kidding! That's why I couldn't say anything". 

We couldn't believe it either. At that point, my husband and I just kept telling Noah how remarkably nice that stranger was, and how lucky he is that he was chosen from among the many children who were around. 

After emphasizing to my son how blessed he is to experience such a touching random act of kindness and generosity, I told him to pay it forward. I suggested that he take a certain amount from the roll and share it with the kids next to our lane. 

My son was excited to do so and he went with his dad to hand a long strip of tickets over to the other family. They were very happy and grateful as well.

When we went to the machine to check the value of the tickets and see what we can exchange them for, we calculated that they were AT LEAST $50. We had a total of 899 points to exchange after feeding all the tickets into the machine. Instead of just ending up with the usual 'good-as-junk' flimsy, plastic toys that one gets from the glass encasement after every trip to the arcade, Noah was able to take home a stuffed toy bear, a toy gun, a small football and some stickers...the most he's ever gotten!

But this experience gets even more amazing at this point. After Noah got his toys, the same stranger who gave us the tickets was lined up to claim something for herself. She had 150 points left to claim and when she saw us, she even offered us her remaining points! We graciously declined and before finally stepping out, I tapped her shoulder one last time and said, "Thank you so much. We REALLY appreciate it!"

I don't think any of us will ever forget what happened. If I could have one crazy wish granted right now, it would be for that wonderful stranger to come across this post and know that for at least one night, she was someone's fairy godmother, a family's angel even! She transformed at least one family's ordinary night into one filled with a deep sense of gratitude, our tired bodies suddenly invigorated by her inspiring generosity, and our cynical souls left believing again that there's hope for humanity.

Any random act of kindness is never too small. I may never be able to personally tell that stranger of the real gifts she gave us that night. But I hope anyone who reads this realizes that such acts of kindness inevitably create sacred spaces where wonderful gifts manifest and multiply. She didn't only give us tickets. She awakened and transformed us. She shared her light, and this is light we shall carry, with the hope that we can continue transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary through utter generosity.

Our lives are not our own. 

We are bound to others, past and present, 

and by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future.

(David Mitchell---Cloud Atlas) 


  1. Beautiful act of kindness. Great story Joy. Love hearing things like this.

    1. Thank you, Kuya James. And thanks so much for commenting here on the site! It means a lot / always great to see comments here and not just on FB. My post looks less lonely that way :-)

  2. Lovely post... and I love how your son paid it forward!

    1. Thanks so much, Mama's High Strung! I wanted to make sure he always remembers the Golden Rule. :-) Glad you enjoyed this post!

  3. That was such a very sweet story Joy! So happy that you shared it. We all need to remember this as we go along in our busy lives. It only takes a second to make someone's day.

    1. That's soooo true, Rena! It's so easy to sometimes think it's not going to make a difference but it really does. :-))

  4. Such a great story. It's so easy to do something nice for someone, and you just never know how it will affect them.

    1. Thanks Lana. Glad you enjoyed it. And yes, that's a good point. If you think about it, our bodies respond very well to good things...doing good and receiving good. It's so much more of a burden to be negative and yet why do a lot of us give it out more than the good? I'm grateful to you for making me think about this more. Thanks! xoxo


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