An unexpected, early morning encounter.
This morning I innocently tweeted about a social interaction I witnessed while devouring my bacon and eggs. I’m not a huge social media person but for some reason this morning’s tweet was overly popular. It’s been retweeted and favourited many times by people all over the world, the UK in particular. I couldn’t figure it out. Still can’t, frankly but I thought I’d take this opportunity to expand the story for anyone interested.
This morning while having breakfast at Route 99 Diner (one of the best greasy spoons in Edmonton) a homeless man walked in and asked if he could afford an order of toast. He opened his palm to reveal a handful of change. The hostess told him she would get him some toast and that he could keep his money. She asked him to take a seat and wait.
Meanwhile, a couple of the other waitresses behind the counter began talking about this man (whose name, I later learned, is Jason) and one waitress in particular seemed quite vocal. She looked pretty “hard” to me, like she wouldn’t put up with bullshit from anyone. Initially I thought she was reprimanding the waitress who offered to buy Jason toast. I remember thinking that, at any moment, she was going to tell Jason to leave. And I probably would have understood if she’d told him to scram.
I live in a neighbourhood that has a high homeless population. I accept that once I step out my front door, I’m going to be asked to “help a guy out”. In most cases, I don’t because I can smell the alcohol on their breath from a mile away. I understand local business owners wanting to shield their customers from being approached for change. I’m sure businesses struggle with this challenge daily.
I sat there sipping my coffee, debating whether Jason should be considered a nuisance or a customer. He didn’t seem to be bothering anyone and he was willing to pay for his food so I didn’t see any reason why this waitress should ask him to leave. Just then she walk over to him with a take-out container of toast. He thanked her and I waited for her to tell him to beat it. I was already getting mad at her for being insensitive. She leaned over him and I heard her say, “is that going to be enough food”?
Wait…what? That’s not what she was going to say. She was going to say “here’s your toast, now go eat it somewhere else and don’t come back”. But she didn’t. She asked him if he needed more. She told him to stay-put and she would be back with a proper breakfast. Oh, and also, “how do you like your eggs”?
She wrote down his order and handed it to the kitchen. With that she went back to work pouring coffee and serving food. Jason sat in the booth and I saw him wiping tears from his eyes. “…The Kings were the eighth place team; they barely made the playoffs”, said my husband from across the table, newspaper in hand. “What? Oh, yah”, I replied while trying to subtly wipe the tears from my eyes too.
With breakfast over, I gathered up the paper and returned it to the front of the diner, ready for someone else to read. I ran into the waitress who bought Jason breakfast. “You just did an amazing thing”, I told her. “Thanks”, she said. “I’ve been there before”. And with that, she continued on with her day. I don’t think she realizes how amazing she is or how I admired her.
I watched her open the bag containing Jason’s piping-hot breakfast. She threw in some utensils, napkins and ketchup, tied it up and handed it to him. Then she introduced herself, shook his hand and asked him his name.
“It’s nice to meet you, Jason. Enjoy your breakfast”.