A waitress got rewarded for feeding a homeless man who paid with a note he left under his plate — everything was not as it seemed.
Martha and Mary were both waitresses at a new restaurant that just opened its doors in their city. The two had both been job hunting for weeks when they came across an ad requesting waitresses, so they applied.
They both never expected that they would be picked as there were quite a number of willing participants — it was a new restaurant which meant a great opportunity to make a lot.
Martha and Mary started working there the following day. They were provided with uniforms and a form that held the rules and regulations to be upheld within the restaurant; the first rule was to treat every customer, regardless of their station, nicely.
Martha was pleased with the job mainly because the restaurant catered to the higher class in their city, which meant everything was neat and civilized. No bar fights and rowdy, unruly crowds. It was heaven.
Mary was happy as well. The pay was great, and she had learned that the customers left bigger tips the more frequently you smiled and made eye contact. She was not also perverse to the thought of snagging a wealthy bachelor for herself, so she always made sure to look her best.
A month after they started working, a homeless man ambled into their restaurant. He was dressed shabbily in patched clothing, and a distinct smell of filth emanated from him. All eyes were on him the moment he walked in.
He took a seat at a booth towards the back of the restaurant, but he still stood out like a sore thumb. After a moment, he requested the menu with the intent to order some food.
Mary got angry. She could not believe the nerve he had to have walked into such a fine establishment looking and smelling the way he did.
“We need to get security to kick this vermin out of here,” she told Martha with anger in her voice.
“But what if he is hungry and just wants to eat? Martha asked.
Mary may have been seething, but Martha felt sorry for the homeless man. In the end, she was the only one among the waiters who catered to him, taking the menu to him and even recommending their best dishes, all of which she did with a smile.
Mary did not like it. “Do you know?” she asked when she met Martha in the kitchen. “If this bum doesn’t pay, the manager will deduct the money from your salary.”
“I know and if it ever comes to that, I’m sure I can work something out with the management,” Martha replied.
“Are you crazy?” Mary cried. “You know you can’t afford to pay for all he’s eating!”
“Well we can’t turn him away,” Martha answered. “He became a customer when he walked in and the rules say treat all of them nicely.”
Martha fed the homeless man regardless of Mary’s misgivings. All the waitresses kept an eye on him while he ate; they did not trust him not to make a run for it suddenly.
It shocked them all when he pulled out a wallet and paid for the food. After he departed, Martha went to clear the table, and she found a $100 tip and a note under the plate.
It read: “Martha, you’ve found the secret to happiness which is kindness. Now, watch as the kindness you showed me today comes back to you.”
Martha was shocked by what she read, but when she showed it to Mary, her friend disregarded the note as fancy words.
“He probably stole the money off the street,” Mary said.
“But if he did, he wouldn’t give it all away as a tip, would he?” Martha asked herself, trying to make sense of what happened.
Life continued normally after that, and the girls quickly forgot about the strange bum who could afford to eat at their restaurant. Thoughts of him would occasionally cross Martha’s mind, but she would simply brush them aside.
Exactly one month after the occurrence, the man returned again. Mary once again feared he would run off with food, but Martha served him again.
After he finished his food, the man stood up and clapped his hands twice, and immediately the room went quiet.
“See, I told you he was here for something besides food,” Mary whispered to Martha as they watched the man walk to the middle of the room.
“My name is Earl Cooper,” he boomed. “And I own this restaurant.”
Everyone was quiet after his declaration. The security was immediately summoned, but as they walked towards the man, he pulled off his grubby hat and removed the artificial beard he had plastered across his face.
That stopped the guards in their tracks as they were now looking at the man who hired them, dressed in dirty clothes.
“Now that I’ve got your attention, I’ve got some announcements to make,” Cooper said. He singled out Martha and commended her for taking the time to attend to him nicely even though he looked undeserving of it. “She showed that you can treat people with respect, no matter how they look or how rich they are,” he said.
Cooper promoted Martha that day, giving her the coveted spot of manager while he moved on to oversee his other business ventures.