Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Favorite Place for Lunch

...and nice old men.

I have a favorite place for joe, and Daughter No. 2 has a favorite place for lunch. She and a girl friend walk to a little sandwich and soup shop next door to her school nearly every day for lunch. The shop is adjacent to the parking lot and very convenient. It's also affordable for kids, and No. 2 has her favorites on the menu. When the woman in charge makes a batch of macaroni and cheese soup, she can bet No. 2 will order a bowl and beg for more. No. 2 also has her favorites not necessarily on the menu, and she knows she can ask them for something special. They know what she likes just like my coffee guy knows that I want a 16-oz. cup of regional blend with no room for cream.

This school year, No. 2 and her friend have caught the attention of an older gentleman who eats there for lunch nearly every day, too. I know what you're thinking—"candy, little girls?" But he isn't that way. On his birthday, he gave them cupcakes. On Valentine's Day, he gave them an entire box of chocolates. He's just a nice man who recognizes nice kids when he sees them. I have images of The Pigman* running through my head and an entire story line of inter-generational conversation.

Just the other day, the gentleman (his first name is John) showed up for lunch and approached the girls at their table. He explained that he was about to have hip replacement surgery and probably wouldn't be back to the sandwich shop before they graduated from school, so he wanted to give them their presents early. And then he handed them each a jewelry box he had made from burled walnut with felted compartments on the inside. They weren't expecting gifts from the man at all, much less early, and they were so surprised. It was a lovely gesture.

The girls were very appreciative and want to send the gentleman thank you notes but don't know his last name. Wouldn't it be a kick if it were Pignati? So, now begins the search for who he is and where he lives so they can mail him a thank you note and possibly send him flowers after his surgery. With all the crap that goes on in Small Town and in big cities and around the world, seeing someone perform an act of kindness with no hopes of anything in return makes the sun shine.

Get well soon, John. You're a gem.

*The Pigman is a book for young adults written by Paul Zindel. In it, two high-school kids get to know an older man in their town named Mr. Pignati. They refer to him as the Pigman and become caught up in the intrigues of his house and his friendship with a baboon at the zoo. Read it.

UPDATE: We have learned the gentleman's full name and his room number at the hospital. Yesterday we had flowers sent to him with a little thank you note from the girls that reads, "Thanks for being so awesome, John."


dive said...

What a lovely story, Robyn.
It shows that there are still some good old-fashioned "nice folks" out there. I do hope you track him down and also that his operation is a success.

As for daughter no.2's tastes, however …
Macaroni and cheese soup?!?!
I know she also likes macaroni cheese piled on top of a pizza (that still makes me run screaming); where on earth - given your own excellent taste and talent as a cook - did THAT one come from?

lynn said...

Well it took me a while to get over the first sentence that you have a favourite place for joe. Erm... who's he?

The old gent sounds a real gent. I hope. Yes you guessed it, i'm just a little alarmed at some old guy giving gifts to young girls. I know it's sad that some of us think this way, but, well, i'd check him out and no way would i allow the girls to visit him at home, however ill he says he is.

Phew! That said, i do hope that he is one of the few left in the world who are genuinely kind and sweet, i really do hope so and those gifts do sound just lovely. He sounds a true gent and i do hope very much that he is. On that basis, get well soon John.

savannah said...

what a lovely story, sugar, small town living is something some people don't understand. a real case, of neighbors knowing neighbors at home and work. if the gentleman isn't located, perhaps the girls will consider doing something nice for someone else... xox

Shan said...

Ahhh. This is why I also live in a small town. It's simpler here. We have a similar cafe at the end of the street too. No macaroni soup though-rats. I wonder if your town looks like mine. I don't think I have quite as many resources around here ( I can't imagine finding someone who teaches F. horn for instance) so yours is probably bigger. It must be nice having daughters :). I do so love my two boys but sometimes wish I had a daughter to shop with and such. How great that you could take #2 to Europe! What memories together!

Rich said...

Great post Robyn. May John return to the shop with a new hip and a flare for dancing.