The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer
things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like that she had never missed
a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of
him, like so many others had done before. “Leave me alone,” he growled.
To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling — her even
white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are you hungry?” she asked.
“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the
president. Now go away.
The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand
under his arm.
“What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. “I said to leave me
Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked.
“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this
man to his feet. Will you help me?”
The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around
here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”
“See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something
to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”
“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in
there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.
“Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”
“This is a good deal for you, Jack,” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it.”
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack
into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the
middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and
the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria
and stood by the table. “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is
all this. Is this man in trouble?”
“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here
is bad for business.”
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now if you’ll
let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, are you familiar
with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”
“Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly
meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”
“And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly
“What business is that of yours?”
“I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.”
The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She
glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join
us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”
“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”
“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”
“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel. “I’ll get your coffee for you
right away, officer.”
The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place,” he
“That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”
She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at
him intently. “Jack, do you remember me?”
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes “I think so — I mean
you do look familiar.”
“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more
than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very
door, cold and hungry.”
“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a
magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city
looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my
last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets
for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this
place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”
Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the
serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to
eat. I said that it was against company policy.”
“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef
sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go
over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into
trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the
cash register. I knew then that everything would be all right.”
“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.
“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started
my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse
and pulled out a business card. “When you are finished here, I want you to
pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll
go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around
the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a
little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live
until you get on your feet. And if you ever need anything, my door is always
opened to you.”
There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you,” he said.
“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus.
He led me to you.”
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance
before going their separate ways. “Thank you for all your help, officer,”
“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today,
something that I will never forget. And… And thank you for the coffee.”
She frowned. “I forgot to ask you whether you used crème or sugar. That’s
black.” The officer looked at the steaming cup of coffee in his hand. “Yes,
I do take crème and sugar — perhaps more sugar than is good for me.” He
patted his ample stomach.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“I don’t need it now,” he replied smiling. “I’ve got the feeling that this
coffee you bought me is going to taste as sweet as sugar.”