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Greek-American Stories: Generosity Is Contagious

Sunday found our five guys at their regular table in Dixon’s as Dimos was telling them about an incident at his diner yesterday. “A family of four, husband, wife and two small kids came in and had lunch. Everything went on fine until it came time to pay the bill. The husband searched his pockets for his wallet like a man with an itch. He got all red and then, asked his wife if she had enough money on her. She searched her purse and came up short of the cash. I noticed their discomfort and I went up to them.  He told me, turning hot and sweaty, that he forgot his wallet. The wife looked frantic and she was really embarrassed.”

Kipreos asked, “Did you believe him?” Dimos nodded. “At first, I was suspicious. Then, he took off his watch and told me he’d be back in a little while.” John’s brows came together. “Don’t tell me you accepted it. He, probably, had a dozen watches and does it a lot for free meals.” Dimos laughed. “I examined it and saw it wasn’t a phony. No! I looked at the watch carefully. It was a really nice, expensive gold watch and a Swiss movement. No, I’m savvy with stuff like that. Besides, it had the man’s initials on the back.”

George asked, “What did you decide to do?”

Dimos explained that he saw the wife was close to tears. “I told him, ‘Take back your watch. It’s on me! Let’s forget about it! Go on home and have a nice weekend.’ They were so grateful. You could sense it was a genuine mishap. That’s that! Hey! Things happen!”

John smiled. He remembered something that happened in his flower store a month ago. “A young man walked in, looking a bit nervous. He couldn’t have been more than seventeen. He told me he was going to a dance with a girl and wanted a corsage. He said, ‘Can I get one for a dollar fifty?’ I thought about it! Poor kid! Probably, still in school and doesn’t work. How much can he afford anyway. I asked him what color was the girl’s dress. He shrugged and turned red. He said, ‘I don’t know!’”

George asked, “what did you decide to do?” John shrugged. “What could I do? Poor guy! Probably his first date. I couldn’t send him away empty handed. I made up a wrist corsage with two white gardenias and told him, ‘have a nice time.’ I waved away his dollar fifty. He was surprised and stuttered his thanks. Hey! It felt good to do it.”

They all fell silent when they all looked across at Yiannis who listened, calmly, drinking his coffee with ease as he reached for the sprinkled donut. Kipreos asked him if he ever had any experience with helping someone out. “Of course!” he said with ease. “Only last Saturday when I baby sat for my two grandsons. They came around my block to bicycle ride while I was reading my newspaper on the stoop. They were going up and down the block when I saw a young boy – he must have been about ten years old – crash his bicycle into the tree on the sidewalk.” Dimos asked, “Was he hurt?”  Calmly, biting into his donut while recalling, he continued. “He got up and looked dazed. He checked his bike and I noticed his hand was hurt. So, was his knee. And, his bike’s wheel looked a little bent. He looked sad, poor kid!”

John shook his head. “Did he live in the area?” Yiannis shrugged. “I asked him where he lived. He said a couple of blocks down. Well, I couldn’t help him with his bike. Or his hand or knee, either.” George, impatient, asked him, “So! What did you do for the kid?”

Yiannis shrugged. “I figured in times like these one has to be generous. It was a tough decision. But, I had to do it! I gave him a dime to call his parents.”

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