Friday, August 06, 2004


He is so clearly a foreigner. He came to collect his order at the counter when his number was called. A tray with two plates and a basket of freshly baked bread.
He took the two plates and turned away. He is called back by the young guy behind the counter. "Aren't you taking the bread?". Thick accent that I cannot place easily. "No thank you, we have already too much bread on our table". Even without the accent this answer would have been enough: he is a foreigner.
I waited for my order to come in and looked for a table to sit. As soon as I sat down I recognized him as the table nearby. He is finishing a meal with his girlfriend, a blond woman who speaks with an American accent. There is still a lot of food on their table. The woman calls up one of the young cleaning woman. When she comes, it is obvious that she does not understand nor speak English. She can't be more than 15 years old. The woman asks her to bring some plastic containers to pack the leftovers. The young girl just smiles and nodes. It is clear that she does not understand what she is asked to do. The guy repeats the instructions showing the food: "Bring us some plastic containers, 3 maybe 4, so we can take this home". As he finishes the sentence, his hand goes toward hers and he pushes some money in it. It's done very smoothly, naturally as if he was used to shove money into the hands of whomever he is asking for a service. She is very surprised, looks at the cash. There is maybe 2 or 3 dollars rolled. The girl's face changes. Having not understood what was being asked from her, it seems that receiving the money made her believe that she is being asked to do something illegal or at least forbidden by her boss. Something terrible or impossible that could warrant such generosity from this customer. She now shakes her head whispering "no, no, no" with a worried look on her face. The woman laughs and tells her not to worry, that she will do it herself and ask for the containers. She raises and walks toward the counter. The girl looks at her, at her boyfriend who hasn't moved and leaves. She is still clutching the bills in her hand.


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