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A warm welcome on a cold night

It was the last soccer game of a long, hard season. Due to defections and injuries, Livia Lanier, our youngest, and her teammates played it without any substitutes. This was a make-up game played on a cold Tuesday night near Parkview High School in Gwinnett County. Our girls played hard but lost 2-0. It was their ninth loss of a 12-game season that brought but two wins and one tie. The girls just managed to retain the spot in Class A which they fought so hard to attain. The odds were long but they did it. As we left the soccer field, Livia Lanier was ravenous as usual and she wanted a peppermint milkshake from Chick-filA. I finally located one on Lake Spivey Parkway in Stockbridge and wheeled into the parking lot just before closing time. Livia Lanier ran inside while I peeled off the top two layers of clothing I had on. We went in, ordered and headed to the restroom. When I emerged, I went to pay for our order but realized my wallet was in my Jeep with the clothes I had removed. I went to get it and then found the door to Chick-fil-A was locked. They were closed. I asked a nice female police officer to open the door. She did not have a key but summoned the manager, a young man named Nathan King. I explained to Nathan that I had needed my wallet to pay for our dinner and how it had gotten left in the Jeep. ’Don’t worry about your wallet, sir. Your meal is on me. Merry Christmas,’ Nathan replied. I objected and insisted on paying but Nathan would not hear of it. It turned out the folks behind the counter had turned off the milkshake machine. Nathan quietly had them turn it back on and they pumped out a milkshake for each of us. They bagged up our food, adding more to the sack than we had ordered in the first place. Nathan opened the door for us and I again offered to pay but he declined. We stepped back outside. It was cold but our hearts were warmed by Nathan’s kindness. We ate as we drove home. Between bites, Livia Lanier kept saying, ‘That was so nice. I can’t believe it.’ I couldn’t believe it either. I explained to Livia Lanier that people remember kindnesses offered to them no matter how small and that we should be kind to others when the opportunity presents itself. Soon, my exhausted child had dozed off. I wondered how I could repay Nathan. I decided I would e-mail some folks I know at Chick-fil-A and recount his kindness and I did just that when I got home. I also decided I will go out of my way to eat at his Chick-fil-A on future trips to the big city. I thought about Mary and Joseph on their long journey. They were denied a room in the inn but found a warm place for their Holy Child to be born in a barn. They laid Him in a manger. The animals there afforded them the same kindness Nathan reserved for us: a warm welcome on a cold night after a day of hardship. The Geiger family wishes Nathan and each and every one one of you a very Merry Christmas. God bless us one and all. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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