Yesterday, I was broke - dead flat broke. Yes I had a bit of money in the bank, but none to spare, and certainly no cash to spare. But it was Tuesday, the day of my bi-weekly trip with my boss to get spaghetti at the eatery a few hundred feet up the street. My lack of cash for the $5.25 lunch special of salad, spaghetti, and garlic bread, combined with the availability of some two-day-old leftovers prompted me to beg off and eat in my office. I never mentioned my impecunious state to my boss, or he would have insisted on buying my lunch, and I'd look like a beggar - something that I did not want.
So I ate my lunch - happily. But then, around 2:00, I got the need for a cold drink and caffeine dose, so I scraped around in my car, desk, and pockets, and came up with the princely sum of $1.38. Not quite enough for the big iced tea I wanted ($1.50 including tax) but I decided to go up the street (to the same eatery) and see if thay let me owe them the 12 cents.
Now this place is small, old, unpretentious as they come, and has a general air of happy-to-get-by comfort. Hard-working waitresses and cooks, healthy portions of good food. So, I went in, and immediately they got my tea. I met the waitress at the register, and sheepishly handed over my four quarters, two dimes, two nickels and eight pennies, explaining that it was all I had. She waved me off thoughtlessly as if to say "don't even worry about that". Then she inqured as to my absence from the "ritual" spaghetti lunch and I explained that I was broke.
At that point she became upset, as did the other waitress who overheard the conversation, and said "Don't you EVER skip a meal here because of that!! We know you are good for it and know you'll pay us when you can." The manager heard the conversation and affirmed the statement.
I love the town where I work. It is basic, blue-collar, honest, and true. It's funny how hard working honest people without a lot of money are wiling to help out when needed. That's the way I was taught to be. I am saddened by the fact that the world is corrupt and so different than that ideal, but I am even more heartened by the fact that that ideal is out there, still surviving, in places like the town where I work.