I like to cook. I especially like to cook when there is nothing at stake: no guests to entertain, no relatives coming to dinner. Then I throw a little of this and a little of that into a pot, and if it doesn’t turn out, it’s just Pepto Bismol for two and a couple of poached eggs on toast.
But this was Thanksgiving—Thanksgiving in a new country, a new city and with new friends. This was important—so important that I had even prepared much of the dinner ahead of time. By Thanksgiving day I was feeling a little smug. Pies were made, the turkey stuffed sweet potatoes casseroled, and the house in that once a year state of cleanliness. Then in the early afternoon, I received a call reminding me that two of my guests were vegetarian. I’m sure they could have survived on the vegetables and salads I had prepared, but I was feeling so ahead of the game that I decided that while my turkey was roasting, I’d make a quick trip to Alfalfa’s, one of our local vegetarian markets, to pick up a vegetarian entree.
We live in the country. On a busy day, a car goes by our house once every hour, so I was ill-prepared for the number of people in town who also had last-minute shopping to do. Traffic was snarled and drivers snarling. I was starting to run late, and I hadn’t even been able to get into the store’s parking lot! But the minute I did, everything changed.
The manager of the store was in the lot, directing traffic and showing people where there were empty spaces. I parked and rushed into the store. Inside, store personnel were everywhere, handing out tidbits of food, offering suggestions, and helping people find what they were looking for. I quickly got what I needed; but even though all the cash registers were open, the lines were very long. I could feel my teeth clench at the thought of my guests arriving to a burnt turkey and no hostess.
The gentleman in front of me was also experiencing some panic, or so I thought, because an attractive woman was massaging his neck and shoulders. “What a lucky guy,” I thought. Just then, the woman turned and said, “Would you like a neck and shoulder massage while you’re waiting in line?” Would I! As she worked on me and I began to breathe again, I thought, “Isn’t this great? An enterprising massage therapist plying her trade where she is most needed.” When she finished, I asked her how much I owed her. “No, no,” she said, “the massages are courtesy of the store.”
Now I ask you, was that inspired service or what? The rest of the day was a piece of cake, or pumpkin pie if you will. And the dinner, on a scale of 1 to 10? About a 14.
-- Maida Rogerson