That evening as he returned to the restaurant to welcome the dinner crowd a black darkness clothed him. This was not a night to be employed at his restaurant. Although he was his charming self to the clients possibly even more charming than usual. He was even more cruel than usual to his staff. It would appear that there was nothing that they could do to please him and that they were all a bunch of bumbling buffoons. Even the chief who usually was spared his tirades was included in them this night; no, this was not the night to have Jack as a boss.
As the days progressed it appeared much to the doctors’ amazement that his wife and daughter would both pull through this horrific tragedy. They still didn’t show much hope for reconstructive surgery. Jack was pleased that their lives had been spared but he couldn’t help question what kind of lives had been left to them? Left to them all?
As the days grew into weeks his disposition at work grew even worse. The employees could barely handle coming in to work, including the chief who was beginning to think of options he may have else where. Should this happen Jack’s business world would crumble before him. His livelihood rested on the chief and keeping him happy and Jack no longer was even pretending to make an attempt at this. He had also lost the ability he had always had to fool the patrons with his charm and fanais.
Jack’s clientèle was dwindling under his harsh nature. One and a half months after the fire the chief gave notice he was moving to a competitor. Jack scrambled at attempting to save his business but word had already gotten out what it was like to work for him. There was not a single chief that wanted to leave their restaurant. He tried the chief schools but word about him had already reached the schools and no amount of finagling could lure a chief to his business. The rest of the employees were leaving by the droves and by the chief’s last night it was Jack and the chief alone there. Usually this would have been an impossible night to try to get everything accomplished but the business was already dead they had but three patrons the whole night, a couple from out of town that knew nothing of the restaurants recent reputation, and an odd man with a twinkle in his eye. The couple where oblivious to their surroundings, fully engaged in one another and said nothing to Jack other than to order and compliment him on the wonderful meal before they left. The odd man sitting alone asked Jack, “Are you grateful for all you have?” This was the straw that broke the camels back. “Am I grateful, grateful for what? Should I be grateful that this is the last night of my business, my livelihood? Or should I be grateful that my house burnt to the ground with all my possessions and the only things that escaped the fire my wife and daughter are now horribly disfigured from it and in constant pain and there is nothing I can do for them? What may I ask you is there to be grateful for?” At this more than rage filled Jack’s heart which had so consumed him these many weeks, but tears began to fill his eyes. The carefully constructed wall had started to crumble and feelings, something very new to Jack began to penetrate through. The gentleman gently said, “Are you going to visit your family after you close the restaurant?” Jack was taken aback from his words. He realized that this was the first conversation he had had about them outside of the phone call with the policeman and the doctors. “I hadn’t really thought about what I was going to do after closing.” He admitted honestly. “Well, if you don’t mind I’d like to stay with you as you close and figure it all out” said the gentleman. A feeling of resignation swept over him, he replied, “Sure, do whatever you like.”
As Jack continued on with the chores of closing up for the last time, the man prayed, “Lord, continue to guide me in how to minister to him. He is hurting even more than I believe he knows. Guide my words and give me tact. Use me as your instrument of love to this bleeding soul. Grant me Your wisdom and discernment. And give me stamina I believe this is going to be a long night. Amen.”
Jack approached the man and said, “Well I’m done here. By the way if we are going to spend this evening together I’d like to know your name.” The man replied, “My name is Gabriel, but my friends call me Gab. You can call me Gab.” Jack was amazed, “I don’t have any friends” he admitted, “and you’re going to let me call you Gab?” “Yep” said Gab, “Now where do you want to go?” Jack wasn’t sure they had closed the restaurant early it was just 8pm but that meant it was after visiting hours at the hospital and most likely by now his wife and daughter would be asleep. “I really haven’t anywhere to go” he honestly assessed. Gab asked, “Do you have any left-over food from tonight’s specials?” “Yes I do I was just going to through it away. The new owners sure won’t need it.” Replied Jack. Gab thought that he’d take it a step further, “Was all the food in the restaurant included in the sale?” Jack explained that the food was not a part of the deal and he had wondered what he was going to do with it. Gab had an idea, “Do you have a van or truck that we can transport the food in” Jack assured him he did. “Great” said Gab, “I have the perfect plan for tonight. Let’s load up all the food and take it to the local mission for the homeless. We can reheat this evenings meals and leave the rest for them to use as they need.” This seemed like as good as any idea to Jack, surely better than throwing all that food away. They packed everything up and went on down to the shelter, a place Jack had never been to.
He saw something on each face as they served up the reheated specials that reminded him of what another man had told him in passing it seemed a lifetime ago. Gab saw the change taking place in Jack’s eyes and slowly beginning to creep to his heart. It was a long, icy journey with many a road block but Gab felt sure that this new friend was capable of completing the journey begun so many weeks before. Gab inquired, “You’re thinking something or remembering something aren’t you Jack?” “Yes, these people who are receiving this food all have an expression on their face that reminds me of what a stranger said to me once a long time ago, ‘Gratitude is the blessing of a humble heart.’” “You don’t say,” said Gab, “what does that mean to you?” Jack pondered he hadn’t taken his musings that far yet. “Well,” answered Jack, “these people have nothing no home, no job, no family and yet they seem so grateful for this food. They are I suppose of the humblest of means I’ve ever met yet they have found something to be grateful for. It’s hard to understand why they aren’t angry, mad and bitter.” “Like you?” Gab asked. “Yes, to my shame like me.” Jack replied. “How can they have even less than I have and have gratitude?” “That’s a good question.” Gab responded, “Why don’t you ask one of them.” “Do you think they will be offended by my question?” Jack asked. Gab answered back, “Seek out the one that has most of what you seek.”