Teresaville by Prof Gerald August

Apr 29th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations
Teresa is a waitress in a coffee shop in Delaware. She is a fabulous waitress with an outgoing personality She knows what her regular customers usually order, and their soup or salad are at their table a minute after they sit down. Teresa has her own section of the coffee shop.

But what makes Teresa different is the community she creates in her section. Most of the people who come in are retired. Many of them have lost their spouse and eat alone. She introduces these people to each other and encourages them to sit at the same table for dinner. My father was one of those people.

One day she pointed to another man sitting alone and said to my father, “That’s Ray. Do you want to meet him?” “No,” said my father. A couple of days later she said to Ray,” That’s Sam. Would you like to meet him?” No,” he answered.

But Teresa was persistent, and one day she seated Ray with my father. Ray was 28 years younger, a divorced man with stomach problems. My father was a widower. But that night they sat and chatted. And they began eating together. My father and Ray formed a very close friendship. I met Ray a couple of months after their introduction, when I was visiting my father.

The next four years, Ray and Sam had dinner every evening. My father did not drive at night, so Ray would travel 20 miles to pick him up and take him to the coffee shop.

There were many such stories in Teresa’s section. People who were alone no longer dined alone. It was a community.

My father passed away five years ago, but I have kept in contact with Teresa. During one phone call, she told me a customer had ordered a $35 meal and left her a two dollar tip. I was incensed. But she told me not to be upset because we do not know what was in his pocket. I was puzzled, and asked her what she meant. She told me the extra three or four dollar tip might have been the difference between buying, or not buying, the meal he wanted.

I was amazed at her attitude, and asked her where she had picked up this philosophy. Teresa answered, “A few years ago, two old ladies came in to have dinner. I heard them discussing what they wanted to share, and realized they did not have enough money for each one to buy a meal. They were trying to decide what they would split. I went to a table of my regulars and said, ‘It just breaks my heart. Those ladies cannot afford separate dinners.’ The customers looked at each other, and then told me they would pay for two steak dinners for the old ladies. When I told them, they started crying and were very appreciative.”

If you look at a map of the state of Delaware, you will not find a dot and next to it the word Teresaville. But you and I know there is such a place, a caring community created by a catalyst of kindness, named Teresa.

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