I was in Hopkins last week getting some service done on my car. The dealership where I bought the car and where I used to get my service work done went out of business not long ago, so I only recently started going to the place in Hopkins.

Whenever I take my car in for service, I usually pack enough work to do – reading, writing, and whatever I can fit into a tote bag – and just wait there while the work is being done. I hadn’t realized, however, that the 60,000-mile check-up I was bringing the car in for was a little more involved than normal, and would take 2½ to three hours, rather than the usual time of an hour or less. I could have gotten a complimentary shuttle ride home and back, but for the 20-30 minutes I’d have lost each way, I figured I might just as well stay. I had enough work to keep me busy, and I didn’t have any appointments or meetings until later in the day.

The car was done in the time frame I was given, and I got a lot done while I was waiting. But it was early afternoon by then. I was hungry, and my stomach was growling as I drove home.

I try not to be out running errands around lunchtime, for the same reason that people shouldn’t go grocery-shopping on an empty stomach – it’s too tempting to make quick and unhealthy food choices. I didn’t want to stop somewhere and grab some fast food, so I reminded myself that it wouldn’t take very long to get home, and I could fix myself something to eat that would be healthier and more economical than eating out.

And then I passed the Dairy Queen.

I can’t even remember the last time I’ve eaten at a Dairy Queen, and I barely noticed it as I was driving by. But then something clicked in my brain and I realized, “That must be THE Dairy Queen.”

By “THE” Dairy Queen, I mean the one that’s been in the news so much lately. The one where the young man who was working the counter saw a woman pick up and keep a $20 bill that had fallen from the wallet of a visually-impaired man in line. The worker, who is the manager of the store, asked the woman to return the money to the man who had dropped it. When she refused, he refused to serve her and asked her to leave the store. He also gave a $20 bill from his own wallet to the man who had dropped the money.

A woman who was standing in line and saw the whole thing wrote a letter praising the young man’s actions, and sent the letter to Dairy Queen’s headquarters. It went viral, and the young man quickly became a celebrity – and rightly so – for what he did. He began receiving letters of praise and appreciation, many of them with money enclosed. He heard from business leaders and talk show hosts. And as his name and fame grew, so did the popularity of the Dairy Queen where he worked. The store immediately experienced an increase in traffic and sales.

And it was about to do so again.

I was a block or so past the Dairy Queen when I decided to pull into the nearest parking lot and think things over. Did I really want to spend money for lunch at a fast food restaurant when I was just fifteen minutes from home? Did I want to sacrifice the healthier lunch I would otherwise have eaten for something that was likely to be much less so? Was I actually going to patronize this place just because it was in the news for a good deed that one of its workers recently did?


The girl working the counter when I placed my order smiled and nodded when I told her why I decided to stop there to eat. She said that’s been happening a lot, and that the young man at the center of all the attention had been flown out to California for an interview. She was a cheerful and friendly young lady named Amber, and I’m willing to bet that if she had been the one working the counter when this incident happened, she’d have done the same thing.

I try to stay away from fast food restaurants as a rule, by the way, because of heart damage I sustained and health issues that came about following chemotherapy years ago. Because of that, I have to be especially careful about the foods I eat and the choices I make. And I am – most of the time.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch that day, and I’m glad I made the decision to eat at the now-famous Dairy Queen. It felt good to add my patronage and support to the place where someone took a stand against greed and dishonesty when he saw it, and was so thoughtful and generous to one of its victims.
My heart felt great as I was driving home. My newly-serviced car was running smoothly and humming cheerfully along, and so was I.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on October 3, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013

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