A Short Stack Full of Grace

May had been a bad month. My winter depression had lingered well into spring. Depression is a night crawler and comes when I have fewer resources to fight it. It leaves me with little more than half-sleep and even that is halved early in the morning, when I climb a cliff of names of people I have wronged in ways large and small.  I rise to the day already exhausted by the night and do my best to contain the agitation that accompanies exhaustion. I have enough names on my cliff already. Grace came the other day in the most unexpected way.  My morning hangout, the pancake house, moved recently.  For years, I have gone there three or four mornings a week to hang out with a group of old guys at the back counter. The new pancake house has no counter and is out of range for some of the guys, but a few of us are carrying on.

This day, I sit alone for a long time at the big table which has replaced the counter. I know most of the staff well, so even alone, I am still in a friendly world. The managers, waitresses and the guys who clear the tables all stop by to say hello.  One of the waitresses, Jasmine, who is a student at Northeastern Illinois and works part-time, stops for a little longer than usual and makes my day.

A couple of years back, Jasmine had a table with $75 tab that left her $5. I heard about it from one of the other waitresses, put $5 in an envelope, and wrote something like “on behalf of the rest of humanity” and left it for her unsigned.  Neither of us had ever mentioned it. This day, though, she decides to show me something she always keeps with her when she works.  It is my note and the $5 bill.  I surprise both of us when tears fill my eyes.  I am sure she has no idea how much I need this memory this day.

(This is a new category on Longing for a Song. From time to time, I will write short pieces from everyday life in Chicago. These pieces will be indexed in a separate category.)

26 thoughts on “A Short Stack Full of Grace

  1. I have really missed your blog! Hearing an act of unexpected kindness like this, David, has to be reassuring that there are still good people left on this planet!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been waiting patiently for a new post from you. This is a gem. You are a master storyteller. About two years ago I made a decision. I started leaving 20% and just felt better all over. Growing up in the depression and never getting to the top of the salary list had warped my thinking all those years. In fact some of he service I have received over the years led me to consider leaving only 10%., But you know something I just don’t get bad service any more. I wish I was near that coffee house. I would love to sip coffee with you every morning. Not that I could add much to your day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you added a lot to mine. Pace used to do that. In face a couple times when depression hit me really hard and tears flowed, he found a way to head me in the right direction. I’ve had a couple hospital stays in the past three weeks–bleeding ulcers and some other stuff. But they don’t ask me to change my diet, just take the pill. I think I won’t try old Jack for a while though. Have a good day and remember, the Russians are listening. Of course we are listening to them as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marvin, I would like nothing better than to have you at my counter right next to me. You underestimate yourself and sometimes I fall for your self-critique and then, wham, you say something that really makes me think. I made good friends with one of the waitresses at the pancake house. She and I went to the movies one afternoon every week. This woman was raising two boys on what she made at the pancake house. She was eligible for food stamps but didn’t take them mostly because of the hassle. Now one of her boys is finishing at U of I in engineering after going almost fully on scholarships. The age-old struggle of people is still going on. When you go a place you start to identify with their struggles and care about them as people. That’s always the best way to care, isn’t it? I have lived alone for 30 years. I think it has made all the people who help me get by all the more important to me. They have been good lessons for me. I am afraid the world is not producing as many people of the fiber of you and Pace. It will miss that. I miss you.


  3. David. Your words are so beautiful….hitting home so truthfully that my poor allergic dry eyes well with refreshing moisture. Lol So thanks!!


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