If you're in need of something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season, know that the spirit of people gathering together is alive and well. Meet Eric Haralson, a 28-year-old man from Indiana who recently made one elderly woman’s day.
On Thursday morning, Haralson headed to his local McDonald’s to eat breakfast by himself. And a 70-year-old woman, who goes by the name Jan, had the same plan.
When Jan saw Haralson sitting by himself, she asked if the pair could enjoy their breakfasts together.
“My reply was 'of course' because that’s just who I am,” Haralson told TODAY Food. “So she [Jan] grabbed her food, I pushed her chair out for her and introduced myself.”
The pair sat together for 45 minutes, before Haralson walked Jan to her car and the duo exchanged numbers in the parking lot.
Thanks to Amanda Craft, a teacher from Noblesville, Indiana, who witnessed the encounter, people on social media were able to catch a glimpse of the morning encounter.
“Shout out to this guy! This elderly lady (seemed to be a little lonely) came up to him and asked if she could sit with him,” Craft wrote. “My friends and I watched him introduce himself and shake her hand. They talked and laughed together like they were friends. They didn’t know each other, and they couldn’t be more different. But today they shared a meal together and it touched our hearts.”
Nearly a week later, Craft’s photo of Jan and Haralson has garnered over 10,000 likes and hundreds of comments — and the story has clearly touched Facebook users across the nation. One person commented, “Love & Kindness - A Winning Combination.” Another person added, “We need more of this in our chaotic times.”
“This is how the world should be!” another person commented.
But for Haralson, this weekday breakfast with Jan wasn’t any type of special favor.
“She is a wonderful woman,” Haralson told TODAY Food of the lady he's met only once. The pair talked about how Jan goes to church every Sunday and how she used to be an artist. Haralson said that he told Jan about his girlfriend and young son.
According to Haralson, Jan even shared some of her wisdom about life during their meal.
“She mentioned many times how we all should love one another,” Haralson recalled. “And how we should not judge anyone because you never know how their day is going and what they've been through.”
Jan “just wanted some conversation,” according to Haralson, but her polite request sparked a spirit of gratitude inside that particular McDonald’s and across the web as many people are now sharing their own stories of sitting with strangers or simply lending a helping hand.
Since last Thursday’s breakfast, Haralson called Jan and left a voicemail to let her know that they’d gone viral but said he has yet to reconnect with her.
“I’ll keep trying,” Haralson said of getting another breakfast date with Jan, adding, “I know if we had forever she would have a story for me for everyday.”