The Secret of Happiness
by Steve Brunkhorst, © Copyright 2004
The old man shuffled slowly into the restaurant. With head tilted, and shoulders bent forward, he leaned on his trusty cane with each unhurried step.
His tattered cloth jacket, patched trousers, worn out shoes, and warm personality made him stand out from the usual Saturday morning breakfast crowd. Unforgettable were his pale blue eyes that sparkled like diamonds, large rosy cheeks, and thin lips held in a tight, steady smile.
He stopped, turned with his whole body, and winked at a little girl seated by the door. She flashed a big grin right back at him. A young waitress named Mary watched him shuffle toward a table by the window.
Mary ran over to him, and said, "Here, Sir. Let me give you a hand with that chair."
Without saying a word, he smiled and nodded a thank you. She pulled the chair away from the table. Steadying him with one arm, she helped him move in front of the chair, and get comfortably seated. Then she scooted the table up close to him, and leaned his cane against the table where he could reach it.
In a soft, clear voice he said, "Thank you, Miss. And bless you for your kind gestures."
"You're welcome, Sir." She replied. "And my name is Mary. I'll be back in a moment, and if you need anything at all in the mean time, just wave at me!"
After he had finished a hearty meal of pancakes, bacon, and hot lemon tea, Mary brought him the change from his ticket. He left it lay. She helped him up from his chair, and out from behind the table. She handed him his cane, and walked with him to the front door.
Holding the door open for him, she said, "Come back and see us, Sir!"
He turned with his whole body, winked a smile, and nodded a thank you. "You are very kind." he said softly.
When Mary went to clean his table, she almost fainted. Under his plate she found a business card, and a note scribbled on a napkin. Under the napkin was a one hundred dollar bill.
The note on the napkin read...
"Dear Mary, I respect you very much, and you respect yourself too. It shows by the way you treat others. You have found the secret of happiness.
Your kind gestures will shine through those who meet you."
The man she had waited on was the owner of the restaurant where she worked. This was the first time that she, or any of his employees had ever seen him in person.
This story is based on actual events experienced by a friend from St. Paul, Minnesota. The note is the exact wording on the napkin that she has kept in her scrap book for fifteen years.
by Don at 1:52 PM