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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Rest (06/14/04)

TITLE: The Meal
By Chenel Moore


It was such a big deal. Never in my wildest imagination could I ever have realized how one meal could change my life. As the manager of the restaurant, it was a mark of distinction to be selected as the place to host a guest of honor. I already had a picture in my mind of how I would frame and prominently display my autographed picture. I thought about how I would be the envy of all of the other managers. No one else had ever entertained a guest of this caliber in our entire region. There would be an article in the local newspaper. I would receive numerous accolades as well as a bonus check.

The staff was in a frenzy around me as we put the finishing touches on our meticulously detailed preparations. We had his favorite music piping through the sound system. We were prepared to make his favorite dishes. Everything was ready and everyone was on high alert. We all knew how to carry out each step of our pre-orchestrated plan.
At that time, I saw a homeless looking man walk in carrying a tattered knapsack on his back. His jacket was old, worn and torn in many places. His jeans which were once blue were now dirty brown. My hostess greeted him and then came and tapped me on the shoulder.

“This homeless guy wants to know if we can give him some food. What do you want me to do?” she asked uncertainly. I knew what she was thinking. Having this homeless guy in the restaurant didn’t exactly fit in with the timing of our guest of honor. Consequently his very presence was a major distraction and didn’t line up with the image we had worked so hard to present. “Just tell him to go the back of the house and have them give him some water.” I said.

At that time, an impeccably appareled man walked into the restaurant. Immediately, the staff went into high alert for our guest of honor. My hostess quickly greeted him and led him to the very best table in the restaurant. My best waitress expertly took his order. With perfect timing, I walked over and said, “Good Evening sir, I am the manager here and I just wanted to check in on you. Is everything to your liking?”
The man smiled and reassured me that he was totally impressed with our service so far. This was the answer that I was looking for but just hearing the very words was like receiving the affirmation of a lifetime.

I was floating so high that when my cook came from the back of the house to tell me that the homeless guy was in the back creating scene that at first I was only mildly annoyed. I only became incensed when I learned that he had demanded to speak with a manager after my staff told him that we wouldn’t give him any food. Why did this have to happen when I had the biggest client of my life seated in restaurant. What is the world coming to when a non-paying nuisance could demand to speak to a manager, I thought to myself as I hurriedly went to deal with this scene.
When I saw the homeless looking man standing in the doorway of the kitchen leaning on the trash can, I already knew what I was about to do.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
He replied “I think so. I was told that I could get a meal here.”
“I am sorry,” I began “but it is illegal for restaurants to feed homeless people.” I knew I was lying, but I desparately wanted to get this man off of my property immediately without creating even more of a scene.

He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me. The paper clearly showed that he was the guest of honor that I had been preparing for. Slowly, it began to dawn on me how I just mistreated the very guest that I was expecting. I was both confused by his method but understood his message all at the same time. I had been tested on my weakness instead of my strength.

I began to apologize. “Sir this is not at all what I was expecting.”
He looked at me sternly for a moment and responded, “Well we certainly can’t hold it against you for not understanding how important one meal can go towards providing rest for the weary now can we?”

Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee06/29/04
it is illegal for restaurants to feed homeless people - where I live some "people" got together and made it illegal.

All of the restaurants in the downtown district had put together a feeding the homeless plan for every evening when they closed. It was great, except some of their "patrons" decided it was like attracting stray cats and had an ordainance passed.

soooooo sad!
Melanie Kerr 07/01/04
That must have been a very hard and humbling lesson to learn. Thankyou for sharing it.