Last night I was working the floor with only two waiters and a busser and we were pretty busy. A little too busy for only two waiters. Everything was fine, except I think I'm out twenty bucks.
After the rush had passed, but we were still hustling, a man who looked like a typical resident of our town came to the top of the stairs. That is to say, he was sporting a ball cap, was a little grubby looking, but not filthy, wearing a tee-shirt with a flannel shirt over it and with an expression that made me think the little man stoking the coal inside this guy's head had taken a break.
He told me he had an emergency and his Uncle Del told him the only place he could think to go was our place and to look for the man with the <insert my most distinctive feature here>, "he's a really nice man". He told me was trying to get to work, was out of gas, needed money, they'd pay me tomorrow with interest, his wife Roni worked at Safeway and she'd be in at 4:30, would I be here? I allowed I wouldn't, he asked if someone would they could leave the money with plus interest. He said his Uncle Del ate with us often.
Whether I'm a nice man is open for debate. I am however, a soft touch. I have been down on my luck enough, and invented enough preposterous stories to be at least amused when someone goes to the effort of that much elaboration. I also like to quote my favorite sage of the beggar, Henry Miller, who said "to be generous is to say yes before the man even opens his mouth."
I asked him what he needed. He said $20 and they'd throw in an extra $10 when they repaid me. I told him that wasn't necessary, gave him the twenty and returned my attention to the dining room. Later, searching our mailing list yielded no Del's, Uncle or otherwise.
I could be wrong. The GM and I are going in for dinner tonight. Maybe I'll have $20 to leave for a tip.