Today Ron took me out to a local Chinese buffet this afternoon. Ron had worked the last two nights his normal 12 hour shifts at the hospital. It is hard work and when he got home he had intended to stay up to be with me, but instead suggest he would get a quick nap of two hours and get up. I let him sleep until about three in the afternoon, when he woke up on his own. We talked about what to do for something to eat or other activities, and Ron mentioned he was still tired but would like to have Chinese. I agreed and as it is only about ten minutes down the road off we went.
It was sparsely filled with people eating, being between the lunch rush and the early bird season now upon us. Great timing. The food was plentiful , fresh and hot. Ron often gets me stuff if my legs wont hold me, but several times I went up to the buffet lines myself. I was watching the few people who came in after we were seated. There was an older couple two tables in front of us. I should mention if we don’t get a booth I require a table against a wall as I have a cane and they get all in the way if there is no place to rest them against something. To the right against the other wall was an older man , older than Ron and I , with an even older man who was almost bent double. I originally thought the two men might be lovers and told Ron there was us in another twenty or so years. Sorry it is just something I tend to do if I see two guys together out to eat or such I tend to think in terms of my own life. Ron snorted. I went up to get a few small things when I was next to the younger of the two older men, I greeted him as I tend to be rather outgoing and friendly. At first he was hesitant to talk to me and then suddenly decided to fill me in on his whole day. Seems he was taking his father out to the restaurant. He did not like the place but his dad loved it and so he brought him there when he could. I told him he was doing his father a great thing, making him happy and when his dad passed on he would be glad he did so. He relaxed and then I saw him think on this, his dad passing and he smiled, ( the first one I had seen on him ) he thanked me and said he had not thought of that. He took an extra large plate back to his table for his dad. I have to say the older man could eat. He put both Ron and I to shame, he ate more food then I could have in an entire few days, and still was going strong when we left. Great for him.
However I did watch the couple two tables up from us. the older woman seemed to be a non smiling prim and proper type. She sat stiffly and ate only sparingly. Her husband ( the man with her ) ate with relish yet as with most of us after a few plates of different things and some soup he had had his fill. She sat there unsmiling and not even talking, he ate in silence also. Contrast that with Ron and I who were jabbering away and enjoying this treat out with gusto, helping each other with different dishes and sampling off each others plates.
The reason I mention the older couple is that when they left, the lady seeming to not have enjoyed herself, and the man seeming have eaten his fill, I saw something that disturbed me greatly. See in that restaurant the wait staff is there to take your used plates, bowl, and other things, bring you more drinks, and basically help if you need something or have a question. It is a buffet so they don’t bring your food. They are very attentive and right on the spot. To say they don’t work hard at what they do would be wrong. After you are done eating they bring your bill to you on a tray, and leave it. You take your bill to the register at the door, pay and leave. After the young woman brought the older couple their bill on the tray she left them as is normal. The couple got up , took their bill and left. The woman came back to clean up the table. I saw her pick up the tray and realize the couple had left her nothing. Not even a few dollars and I seen her face fall for just a moment. She quickly schooled her expression, but I had seen her disappointment. I felt she was right to be disappointed. She had done her job by them, worked hard to keep them in drinks and their place cleaned up. They gave her no regard. I reached into my pocket and brought out my wallet to giver her something for them, but by then she had moved away and to do anything would cause a disturbance. However when Ron came back to our table I told him about it ( he had been up getting me a small dish of hot mushrooms, one of my favorites. ) When our time came to leave I was proud of him. I had pulled out my wallet to offer the tip, but he said he had it covered and I put my wallet away. I was stunned at the bill he pulled out as a tip. That was more than I had planned. It was a tip we would leave at a much fancier full service eatery with a far bigger nominal price. He looked at my wide eyes and he said ” you were the one upset the others did not give her anything, this will make up for it”. I was so happy my chest hurt. We are not wealthy , a couple trying to make it in this world on a one family income. The bill he was giving as a tip was almost the cost of a one person buffet meal. I discreetly waved the serving woman over to us, and then gave her the bill Ron had given me. Her eyes glowed, she broke into the greatest smile. For a minute she was transformed. She was so happy. Then she thanked us, kept lowering her head. We told her how we enjoyed the meal and thanked her for her attentiveness and that she had been kind to us and also the food was great.
We left. I do not know the rest of her day. I do not know her story, what she faces every day. I just know the difference on her face, in her body from the older couple who couldn’t even give her a few dollars for her effort, and the total joy that she showed when I gave her the bill Ron had chosen for her. I tried to be nice after we left saying to Ron maybe the couple did not understand how much even two dollars would have meant to the woman. He was not so understanding and told me they simply did not care. They got what they wanted and if not required felt they did not have to give more than that. Ron is more realistic in the world than I. We do not eat out often, and when we do it is not fancey. I am disabled and can not work. Ron works and maintains our whole home and lifestyle on his one income. However when we go out we enjoy it and we treat others with respect and courtesy. Today I was proud of Ron, and I was so glad to see the joy on the woman’s face. It was the best desert I could have had. Hugs