By Liliane L. Clever
[Writers Clearinghouse News Service]
My husband and I spent a quiet Christmas day with long-time friends and their elderly parents. In their mid-eighties to early nineties, my friends’ parents are still independent in downtown Philadelphia. They remain very active, walk all over town, and regularly enjoy an old-fashioned dinner and a movie date. The week before Christmas, they decided to dine at an Old City restaurant, and this is the story they shared with us.
***They knew the restaurant was a BYOB, so they came prepared with a good bottle of red wine. What they were not prepared for was the restaurant's cash-only policy. They checked their collective pockets to find out that they only had just about $35. They went in anyway hoping to appeal their case. The owner was very understanding, but not to the point of making an exception. Instead, she directed them to an ATM at a nearby market. My friends’ mother reserved a table while her husband went next door.
As it turns out, my friends’ father had never before used an ATM. He looked around for help, and a young woman came from behind the cash register to volunteer her assistance. She fed the card to the machine and asked him to enter his PIN. He had no idea what she was talking about.
“I don’t know what my PIN is,” he replied.
The young woman suggested he called his bank. He went back to the restaurant to retrieve the cell phone from his wife. His wife was comfortably seated at a table with a glass of red wine in front of her. She looked so expectant that he did not have the heart to tell her that there was a ‘slight’ problem with the ATM. He went back to the market to make the call.
He was put on hold for longer that would have been acceptable any other day. He started to worry about his wife waiting for him.
The young woman told him to hang up. She went back behind the cash register, retrieved her purse, took two $20 bills, and offered him the money.
“You are a nice man, it’s a nice day, and I want you and your wife to enjoy your dinner,” she said.
He was so surprised that he heard himself blurt out: “Could you make it $50?” before realizing what was happening. She smiled and gave him $10 more .
He assured her that he would come back first thing next morning to return the money. She replied that she was off the next day, and to come back on Monday.
“But you don’t even know my name.”
“I trust you,” she replied.
On Monday morning he came back to repay his debt. He tried to give her three $20 bills as an extra thank you, but she would only take the $50 she had lent him.
One more time she said: ”You are a nice man, it was a nice day, and I wanted you and your wife to enjoy your dinner.”
He told her that they had a wonderful meal and wonderful time indeed, and could never thank her enough. Again, she just smiled.
He turned around and went home.