We have arrived at a time when some say the economy is akin to the whirlpool seen as water drains from the bath and any hope of a bright future has faded like the sun in mid-December. It is these times of despair that human nature prompts one to turn inward and seek to preserve self, first. However, even with this pessimistic attitude prevailing, I witnessed a brilliant display of selfless compassion in spite of and because of a selfish act by inconsiderate and self-absorbed miscreants at a local restaurant. On the eve of Independence Day 2014, another form of patriotism was shown.

The dining establishment, which has been a fixture in town for decades, experienced a technical problem with the card reader attached to the check-out register. Most patrons had already received their orders before the error occurred and were unaware of the glitch. A customer with cash had no problem paying. For those with bank cards, the wait staff informed the customers of a nearby ATM machine and asked with apologies, if they would go and retrieve the cash for payment. Everyone understood and made the accommodation. From my observation only two parties did not honor this request but “dined and dashed”. One I did not personally observe, but, the subject of this narrative transpired two tables from me.

The restaurant was quite busy and I will venture to say unusually so on a holiday weekend. The servers and kitchen staff however performed well under the circumstances. After their meal was completed, one of the customers went to pay the check with a credit/debit card. Whether they had prior knowledge of the concerns with the reader is unknown. After being told of the inability to use the card the female customer returned to the table and informed the other patrons. Shortly after her return, the group proceeded to leave the restaurant. Their server and I will use the pseudonym Carla, asked, as she had the other guests, if at least one from the party would remain in the building until the others went to the ATM machine and returned to pay the check. The entire party glanced at her, then each other and proceeded out of the building. It was a blatant display of disrespect and arrogance and their actions shouted “we’re not paying and what are you going to do about it”? This brought Carla to tears. It shattered the conscience and was distressing at least to watch. Carla’s professionalism rose to the top and she continued to serve her remaining guests.

At the table behind me sat a party of six who also observed this incident. They were equally disgusted and outraged by what happened. They sought to assist by looking outside to see if the other party would return but without success. I could hear in the tone of their discussion the empathy felt for Carla. But just as Carla’s professionalism allowed her to press forward, the morality and virtue of the party of six surfaced. They pooled resources to more than compensate for the thievery of the ‘dashers’. It was without reservation or hesitation they made things right. They were cheerful in their giving and wanted no fanfare for the act. They deserve all our thanks. Even though it was not asked for, I would like to publicly thank THE GIRLS OF THE AUTUMN LOUNGE, Flint, Michigan for their selfless compassion and giant hearts. I am proud to be a fellow citizen of these fine people. The piercing warmth of their generosity has permeated the gloom of the darkest forecast.