By Pravin Trivedi
The number of decent people who live here hasn’t ceased to amaze me. There are loonies too, but I have never felt that I was discriminated due to my color, religion, or accent. This incident happened in the tenth year of our stay in the United States, when we had two children, a son named Ramesh and a daughter, Ramila.
Our family used to like going out to dinner occasionally. By now our children were old enough so it was fun except for one thing. Our son was very active and invariably spilt something. Over time, we got used to this. In fact, we expected it at some point during the meal. Once it was done, we could relax and know that the rest of the meal would be fun.
The children’s most favorite restaurant was Abdow’s Big Boy, with the huge statue of the Boy carrying an oversized hamburger plate. Friday or Saturday night was the best day for us.
This time we were having a nice dinner when our son spilt his glass of milk. He rushed to contain the spillage, using lots of napkins. The waitress ran over and mopped it up.
“I sorry,” said Ramesh.
“Don’t worry hon,” said the waitress, feeling sorry for him since she expected him to be punished.
“He does it once when we go out,” his little sister quipped.
“So, this is it for now, then?” said the waitress.
“Yes, promise,” said Ramesh.
Neither mom nor dad got upset but we made sure everything was cleaned up. And with a non-repeat assured, we had a nice meal.
I asked for the bill, and that is when we were surprised. The bill was all paid for.
We asked, “By who?”
But she would not tell. She had been told not to by the donor.
We insisted that she thank the donor for their kindness, but we found it difficult to accept their generosity without knowing who, what and why.
A little while later a priest got up to leave and went past our table. He said Hi to the kids and asked if he could join them. The kids looked at us and we nodded, so they asked him to “please sit down.”
He did and explained that he had had a very tiring day and thought he could have a quiet meal. Seeing a family with kids made him want to leave, but we were fascinated by the milk glass incident, and all that followed. He thought we were a great family and would have sat longer if he had the time.
We thanked him for his generosity and thanked god for making us a good family and meeting people like him.
Summary: Going out to dinner with the family is great, until the kids spill their drinks and make a mess. Today was no different, except when it came to pay the bill!