I sat with a friend in a high-class coffee shop in a small town near Venice, Italy. As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat at an empty table beside us.
He called the waiter and placed his order saying, “Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall.” We heard this order with some interest and observed that he was served with only one cup of coffee but he paid for two. As soon as he left, the waiter pasted a piece of paper on the wall with the words written ‘A Cup of Coffee’.
While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, “Two on the table and one on the wall.”
They had only two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. This time again, the waiter did the same; he pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying, ‘A Cup of Coffee’.
It seemed that this gesture was a norm at this place. However, it was something unique and perplexing for us. Since we had nothing to do with the matter we finished our coffee, paid the bill and left.
After a few days, we happened to visit this coffee shop again. While we were enjoying our coffee, a man entered. The way the man was dressed did not match the standard nor the atmosphere of the coffee shop. Poverty was evident from the look on his face and his attire. As he seated himself, he looked at the wall and said, “One cup of coffee from the wall please.” The waiter served a coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity.
The man drank his coffee and left without paying. We were amazed to watch all this when we also noticed that the waiter took off a piece of paper from the wall and threw it in the dust bin. Then it dawned on us what this custom was all about. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town welled up our eyes with tears.
Coffee is not a need of our society, nor a necessity of life. The point to note is that when we take pleasure in any blessing, maybe we also need to think about those people who appreciate that specific blessing as much as we do but they cannot afford to have it.
Note the character of the waiter, who is playing a consistent and generous role to get the communication going between the affording and the needy with a smile on his face.
Ponder upon this man in need. He enters the coffee shop without having to lower his self-esteem. He has no need to beg for a free cup of coffee. He only looked at the wall, placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left.
When we analyze this story, along with the other characters, we need to remember the role played by the wall that reflects the generosity and care of the dwellers of this town. What a way to show compassion and keep up human dignity for all.