Random Acts of Kindness; Sally Marshall

Sally Marshall. She’s 40-something, doesn’t work, but is EXTREMELY busy.

She looks great in her Lululemon leggings while she sips skinny soy lattes after the kid drop-off at school, before heading off to the 10am yoga class.

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A mate and I were tasked with rolling out a little market research for a company we were working for and this was the demographic we were given (or chose, I can’t actually remember). We thought rather than defaulting to the typical, sometimes derogatory, names given to these ladies - yummy mummies, Volvo driving soccer mums, MILFs; we’d give her a real name, and so Sally Marshall was born.


So what on earth has this got to do with random acts of kindness I hear you ask? Well, given my job lands me in cafes all over Australia as my remote office for the day, it’s no surprise that my encounters with Sally are fairly regular. The interactions are often nothing more than a moment of sonder, as she stands in front of me and orders her $17 smashed avo with gluten-free toast, however, on one occasion it was much more than that and it was then, that ‘Sally’ really came to life.

I’d chosen one of my favourite cafes on Darby Street in Newcastle and picked a quiet table next to the power point to load the laptop up on juice before my next presentation. I was tucked away in the corner, headphones in, working away on emails, when every remote worker’s nightmare started to unfold in front of me. 


An onslaught of the Marshall clan had just entered the café and of course they’d chosen the table directly next to me to sit and catch up on life. Now when I say “Marshall Clan” obviously I’m talking about Sally’s daughter, Sophia (day off from University today) who had decided to join mum for some quality girl time; and Sandra Marshall, Sally’s mum, crochet equipment on the standby, needles poking out of the top of her Jimmy Choo handbag.


The conversation was in full swing at the Marshall Jamboree. Sophia was teaching Grandma Sandra how to post happy birthday on Beryl’s wall without updating it on her own status; Sally had just read something from an Instagram influencer about how hanging upside down in the shower and washing your hair with yak milk while eating Himalayan rock moss was great for lifting your libido; and me, well, I was taking notes, possibly a little inaccurately.


As more Sallys and Sandras entered the café they’d politely approach my table, ask if they could use a chair, then get stuck into whatever the hot topic was at that stage. Within 30 minutes there must have been 8 of them all squished in around the 4-seater table, raw kale and quinoa salads stacked on top of each other as the ladies maneuvered their way around the toast and each other’s elbows like dainty, lycra-clad contortionists.


Realising the distraction, the group must have been causing to my work, Sally leaned over and apologised for the noise they were causing and explained that it’d been a while since they’d all been together in the same room. I politely brushed it off with a “don’t be silly” wave of the arm and a friendly smile, then popped my earphones back in and continued trying to work through the excited laughter from the group, cackling at the news of Sally’s personal trainer unknowingly letting one of his balls slip out of his shorts as he crouched over her spotting her form on the swiss ball chest press this morning.


Surprisingly, after the initial dread that ensued with the arrival of the group it actually wasn’t that bad working next to them, perhaps even entertaining at times. In fact, aside from when Sandra Marshall accidentally Moon Landed me (when your arse touches another person’s arse) when she sat back down after her third toilet break, I barely noticed them. It was actually a very pleasant morning and over the three hours I was there I was able to get loads of work done; tipped in four coffees, knocked off some delicious scrambled eggs with all the trimmings and racked up a pretty hefty bill, probably around the mark of $45. I even managed to outstay the Marshalls as they’d all progressively said their goodbyes and toddled off to their various appointments at the organic farmer’s market, volunteers day at the animal shelter and the check-up with the Naturopath to get that rash checked out (probably from the yak’s milk).



The café had fallen all but silent since the Marshalls had left and here was I, full-belly and ready to take on the rest of the day! I gathered my things and headed over to the counter where the waitress stood, grinning with a massive, almost mischievous smile on her face. My first thought was that maybe she’s into me, except that never happens, and that thought was quickly followed by a cheeky - maybe there’s something in my teeth? I asked for the bill strategically ensuring my teeth were hidden behind my lips, when to my delight the lovely grinning waitress replied, “It’s been taken care of. The lady at the table next to you said they must have been so distracting and that you were really good about it, so she wanted to pay for breakfast.”

“Huh. Seriously? 

What an awesome human being. I didn’t even get a chance to thank her.”

So there you go, Sally Marshall, you absolute sweetheart! That random act of kindness happened to me two years ago and still today, as I reflect on this story, it brings a joy and happiness with it.

A simple act of kindness that was performed without the need for a thank you, shows you that there are people in the world that are just good people, and on this day, her name was Sally Marshall.


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