It had been a long journey home, with traffic nose to tail all the way.  Navigating in the dark is not my favourite thing because when it comes to roundabouts the diagram on the satnav doesn’t always match the picture ahead. but on the plus side this time I’d only needed to go around a couple of roundabouts twice to fetch up on the right one.  It had been a brain-intensive day altogether, so I decided to follow my standard advice for a stressful day, which is to give yourself a treat – a ‘Hot Chocolate Moment’.  For me, when I’m out and about, this means a McDonald’s McFlurry ice cream.

There was the usual line of Deliveroos with their insulated bags and a line of customers waiting to be served.  I didn’t feel like navigating the big digital screen for a single Mcflurry so I asked the girl behind the counter, who looked about 16 years old, if I had to use it.  ‘No, I’ll take your order,’ she said, beckoning me up to the counter.  ‘Can I order a McFlurry?’  ‘No, sorry, we’re out of McFlurrys.’ ‘I only came in for a McFlurry,’ I said, ‘but do you have milk-shakes?’ ‘No, we don’t have any ice-cream at all,’ she answered, sympathetically.  No Hot Chocolate Moment for me then!  Instead, I ordered chicken strips and a diet Coke.  Handing me a receipt with a big smile, she said ‘You choose a table and I’ll bring it to you.’

At the table I delved into my bag, fished out my phone and caught up with my messages.  Then spotted a young chap arranging paper napkins and realised I hadn’t collected any.  So I caught his eye and asked if he’d mind bringing some over to me, which isn’t what you normally do in McDonalds.  He said, yes, of course, and brought not just napkins but some plastic cutlery as well.  No trouble at all, he said.  And, later, when I arranged the packaging and left-over pieces on the tray for tipping into the Trash bin he happened to be standing near and took the tray from me and tipped the contents in himself.

I didn’t get a McFlurry’s, but the smiles and friendliness of these two was a Hot Chocolate Moment in itself.  It reminded me of the survey we commissioned last year on how each generation valued the other. This year we started a ‘Friendship is Ageless’ campaign to encourage older and younger people to connect.

Our CEO, Stephen Hammersley sums it up:  “We believe that both young and old have so much to give and can relate to each other more than they think. As Christians, we believe we were designed for community across the generations. A simple friendly act, a word or practical help can bring joy; build confidence and self-esteem; lead to new friendships and be good news to those around us.”


Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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