Six years ago, I was traveling alone in the Scottish Highlands. I had taken a bus out to Crathes Castle, lost track of time, and missed my bus back into town. I hadn't eaten all day, and the castle's cafe had already closed. This is when I walked down the road and found the Milton. I shuffled into the fancy-looking restaurant in my shabby travel clothes, meek as a mouse, and squeaked out in my American English, “do you have soup to go?” The hostess gave me a skeptical glance over and was in the middle of basically saying, definitely NOT, when the man behind her (I believe he may have been the owner, although possibly a manager) stepped toward me, brushing her gently aside. He smiled kindly, and said he thought he might be able to find some to-go containers. He went out and searched through a supply shed, and after what I think must have been considerable persistence on his part, he came back about 25 minutes later with a container of the most delicious potato and leek soup, as well as warm bread and butter! When I tried to pay him, he would not even take my money. I went back outside to the road and ate my soup by the bus stop, shedding silent tears of gratitude.
To this day, when I think about what kind of person I would like to be in this world, I still think of that man's totally unnecessary, unexpected generosity. I truly feel that these kinds of gestures – the little acts of kindness to strangers which will probably never be rewarded, or even recognized – are the true measures of person's character. I wish that, at the time, I could have found the words to tell this man how much that small incident meant to me.