It had been a long day. I was up at 6am to work my shift at the Ekka. On my feet for five hours and talking water-wise messaging all day to crowds of people, I was looking forward to my family joining me for their first ever Ekka experience. For any non Brisbaneites, the Ekka is the Royal Queensland Show, which I am sure is like all shows around Australia. They finally arrived at 2pm after waiting 45 minutes in the car park (which we had pre-booked and paid for… that’s a whole other story). We then spent the afternoon wandering around the Ekka which has changed since I went last time yet is still the same in so many ways. All the animals were still on show – although I wasn’t joining the mile-long queue to hold a lamb or baby chicken. There were rides, crowds, showbags, dagwood dogs, crowds, ice creams, tears, tantrums, crowds and laughter – all the things you expect.
At 5.45pm we finally found a position to sit back and enjoy the evening festivities which was due to start at 6.15pm. I volunteered to go and get dinner for us all, taking only my phone and credit card. After quickly deciding on what to have, I joined the line with the rest of the hungry people, eager to get back to my seat so I could enjoy the night. As we shuffled along for what seemed like forever, I got closer to the counter and had a moment of panic… what if they are cash only? I spoke my thoughts aloud to the two ladies in front of me who thought the same as me – they’d have to have eftpos facilities right? The lady in front even checked and said ‘yep, you’re all good’. It finally came my turn, ordering my dinner and then I went to pay my $24 for two beef rolls and some chips (yep Ekka prices). My card was declined…. Not due to insufficient funds but due to not being able to access a server or something. My heart dropped, I turned to the ladies in front and jokingly said I must have jinxed myself! The cashier serving me tried multiple times, even resetting the machine and then just apologised saying it wouldn’t work. I had been waiting 25 minutes for these chips, the kids were hungry and I was hangry…. I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t go back without food. I couldn’t call my husband to bring any cash down (because we didn’t have any) and I wasn’t lining up for another 25 minutes for chips – the show was about to start.
It was then that the lady who I had been talking to got out her wallet, grabbed a $50 note and offered to pay for our dinner – a complete stranger who had known me all of 25 minutes – all we had shared was our patience in the line and the fact we both had hungry families waiting inside. I felt instant relief and a huge amount of gratitude. Thanks to modern technology I was able to transfer her the money instantly but this beautiful human offered to pay without any expectation saying ‘you can’t let the kids go hungry’. I finally got our dinner, balancing it carefully up the stairs and through the crowds and sat down with the family just as the lights were turned down for the night show.
I am so grateful for this experience and to know that there are still so many wonderful people in this world – sometimes we forget this and don’t appreciate the true value of kindness. People often comment on the fact that I volunteer a lot (mostly for my kids’ school) and ask how I find the time or why I do it. Situations like this really make me believe in the saying ‘what goes around comes around’.
Thank you Lita – the stranger I met in line at the Ekka – I hope you and your five hungry children had a wonderful night and you too find yourself at the receiving end of a random act of kindness some day soon.