It was the mid nineteen 80’s and my younger brother and I had bought a concession stand from my father. It was a trailer you’d see at a fair or a carnival, the location was prime.
Our place was just out the door of a Pace Membership Warehouse. Pace eventually got bought out by Sam’s Club. When I say the location was prime I mean there was no other prepared food for a mile or 2 and we had 30,000 people passing by our stand twice a week.
Our specialty was an all beef hot dog on a buttered and toasted bun. People loved them and would sometimes come to eat and not even go inside to shop.
One late afternoon my father stopped by to say hello and to pick up his weekly check from us since he held the note on our business. So me and my brother were talking with him before the dinner rush, just having a few laughs etc… My father was a real character…NO…I mean a real character.
He was larger than life, a hard nosed son of a gun from Maine. “Pop” could make you laugh and cry all in a matter of minutes, just ask any of the waitresses that worked for him. “Pop” was a chef and in his younger years he would have 3 or 4 restaurants going at the same time. He didn’t sleep very much.
So, we were talking and I saw that I had a customer at the window. I asked him if I could help him and he nodded yes then motioned like he wanted a pen and paper to write something down.
I gave him a pen and paper realizing he was probably mute which turned out to be true. The gentleman wrote his order on the paper and handed it to me. It read, I want a hot dog, a coke and a bag of chips please. I looked at him and said ok, that’ll be $5.00.
He motioned to me for the pen and paper again so I gave it to him and he had written no, I only have $4.50. So politely I said ok, well you can have 2 of the three items but not all 3.
Well, he didn’t like that so he wrote no…I want all 3 for $4.50. When I saw that I felt like saying…hey pal, do you go to McDonalds and haggle with the guy behind the counter over the price of a burger and fries? But I didn’t.
I was kinda miffed because I felt like this guy was trying to get over on me by using his inability to talk to make me feel sorry for him. I went back and forth with this guy for a few minutes and neither of us was budging.
The next thing I heard was “Pop” clearing his throat… (have you ever known ahead of time that something unsavory was going to be said and there was nothing you could do about it? Me too.)
“Pop” took his chewed up cigar out of his mouth and said in a loud voice, “Give him all 3 Joe the poor BASTARD can’t talk!!! My brother immediately turned to “Pop” and said NO but he can hear!!!
At that moment I gave the guy all 3 items and said here pal…it’s on me because I have a story to tell for the rest of my life!!! Of course my brother and I apologized to him for “Pop’s” rather coarse language and he walked away with all 3.
I’m asked to tell that story and several others at every family reunion. Like I said, my father was a character. He was one of the most benevolent people I’ve ever known.
In his mind he was doing a good thing by telling me to give the guy all 3 items since the man had an affliction…it didn’t matter to him that he called the guy a bastard.
He was still trying to teach me something at 24 years old, my take away from this experience was to be benevolent, be kind to others less fortunate and my father was hilarious even when he wasn’t trying to be.