Natalie worked two jobs to pay her tuition. She had classes every morning and worked as a waitress in the afternoon and a janitor at night.
One day she was exhausted after cleaning all night because of an unruly customer who stopped by the hostel where she worked. She had to scrub the floor and get rid of the garbage he left behind. After that, she wanted to treat herself to a nice meal.
After a full morning of classes, she headed to the cafeteria to get a meal. She took advantage of her employee discount and ordered a delicious bowl of pasta, something she doesn’t usually do because she’s trying to save as much money as possible.
«Here you go, Natalie. Enjoy! I made the portion a little bigger for you,» her co-worker winked at her as she handed her the bowl of pasta.
«Thanks, Mia! You didn’t have to, but I appreciate it. It was a rough night,» she said, trying to chat.
As she was about to eat, a smelly old man in torn clothes opened the doors to the cafeteria. Other customers looked at the man in disgust and plugged their noses.
«This stench is unbearable!» a woman said loudly.
«Can I have something to eat and drink?» said the old man as he approached the counter.
The manager went over and shook his head.
«Do you have money to pay for the food?» he asked the old man mockingly.
The old man looked confused for a few seconds before the director spoke again.
«You obviously don’t have the money,» he said. «Get out of here. You are distracting our customers with your smell.»
Natalie felt bad for the old man. He looked weak, like he hadn’t eaten anything decent in a while. Before he could leave the cafeteria, she approached him and told him to sit at her table.
«Please, sit down»; she told him.
The man sat down in front of her and she slid her bowl of pasta toward him.
«You can have my lunch,» Natalie said. «Let me get you a bottle of water,» she added as she got up to buy one from the counter.
She could feel the look on her manager’s face as she made her way to the counter.
«Why are you helping that smelly old man?» he asked her.
«My late grandmother taught me that if I am in a position to help someone in need, I should do it. I won’t die if I don’t eat this plate of pasta, but this man looks hungry. If he doesn’t eat, we won’t know how long it will be before he passes out and gets sick,» Natalie explained.
Natalie watched as the man ate the food in a hurry. Halfway through the meal, the restaurant owner arrived and asked the manager about the smell.
In an instant, the manager blamed Natalie.
«This smelly homeless man came in. I tried to chase him away, but Natalie offered him lunch, and now the man is still there. I’m sorry, sir, I should have chased him away better,» he explained.
The owner turned to the old man, and what happened next stunned everyone in the restaurant. He ran to the man and hugged him tightly.
«Daddy!» he said, crying. «I’ve been looking for you for weeks! Where have you been?» he asked.
The manager’s face paled.» Dad?» He knew he had made a terrible mistake and began to play out several scenarios in his head.
«I was lost… and then I saw that restaurant, and I knew it looked familiar. I was right! It was your restaurant,» the older man explained. «That girl over there, she helped me.» He pointed to Natalie. «Everyone was trying to kick me out, even the manager, but that girl asked me to sit down and she gave me her food.»
The restaurant owner took his father home so he could rest and refresh himself. After a few hours, he returned to the restaurant while Natalie worked her shift. He called her into his office and thanked her for what she had done.
«I have always prayed that God would give me employees like you, passionate about what they do and compassionate to others. Thank you for helping my father, even though you didn’t know who he was…. I’ve decided to promote you to agency manager,» he said.
«I know you’re a working student, so I raised your salary so you don’t have to work two jobs anymore. Use your evenings to rest. Is that okay?»
Natalie was now in tears. She was having such a hard time juggling school and her two jobs, and the opportunity to quit one without losing money was too good to be true.
«Would you really do that for me, sir?» she asked him.
Her boss nodded. «Yes. I want you to have enough time to focus on your studies. You can’t do that by taking on two jobs. Quit the other one and work your normal shifts here, but as a manager. You deserve it.»
Natalie was grateful to her boss for the promotion. She had more time for herself, which allowed her to excel in school while enjoying her job.
Meanwhile, the former manager received a very painful lesson when he was fired from his job. The boss told him that he was not meeting the company’s standards of what it means to be a «good employee.» He said:
«In this restaurant, we put values above everything else. We welcome everyone here. If you don’t respect that, you are not worthy of being here.»