Narcissus' Echo

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A bargain



Spent the larger part of a languorous afternoon enjoying a slow lunch at a Mediterranean bistro in Mountain View. As the weather was unusually mild today, I chose to be seated outside, beside the walkway. The food was good: the lamb and beef gyro slices were of just the right thickness and not greasy (the latter, a difficult feat to achieve); the feta cheese, fresh; the olive oil, thick and full-bodied; and the tomatoes, of the vine-ripened sort. What struck me though, was the owner's casual dismissal of my offer to pay first, and his friendly insistence that it was his policy that customers pay after the meal, even if they are seated outside.

I had plenty of time--during the long meal--to observe that, since the outdoor dinner area is neither bounded by barriers nor flower pots/boxes, a customer could easily stand up, blend into the crowd, and so, be the recipient of a free meal.

Intrigued by his nonchalant attitude towards such a (possible) form of loss, I couldn't resist picking the sexagenarian Greek's brains when it was time for me to pay, "If you don't mind me asking, as your outdoor dining area is not surrounded by any barriers, aren't you worried about customers walking away without paying?"

The silver-haired gentleman (who, for some reason, is reminiscent of Nikos Kazantzakis' Zorba the Greek) looked at me intently for a moment, then smiled, and with a twinkle in his eye, replied, "Ah! Then, they would have sold me their dignity for the price of a meal!"

I like this man. I suspect I shall return there soon.


* Oh, the price of my meal? $14.77

** "Tell me what you do with the food you eat, and I'll tell you what you are. Some turn their food into fat and manure, some into work and good humor, and others, I'm told, into God" (Zorba the Greek).

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