It was a slow day at the restaurant, and most of my tables had left when the hostess sat a foreign looking couple in my section.
The man had a long, coarse white beard, and a white turban wrapped neatly around his head. The women with him (who I initially assumed was his daughter, but turned out to be his translator) watched me closely as I neared the table.
I smiled at them both, introduced myself and asked if I could start them off with something to drink. The women said something in a language I could not understand and he nodded his head without looking at her. She smiled at me and politely ordered two green teas.
Just as I was turning from the table, I felt something brush my hand. Looking down, I saw that the man was holding a folded $100 bill out to me. I smiled at him and told them that he did not have to pay until the end of the meal.
“No,” said the women, “that is for you.”
I felt myself turn bright red as I processed what she had said.
“I’m sorry, I can’t accept that” I said a little too loudly, wondering if I was being propositioned.
“You must” said the women calmly, “it is his way.”
“Who is he?” I asked warily.
“He is a very important man in my country – very wise – a teacher. He senses good energy, people who carry good, genuine feelings, and he likes to share his wealth with these people to give them the means to spread their kindness. He sees something bright inside you. You must accept his gift”
I don’t know if it was her exotic accent or the kind look in the man’s eyes, but I believed her.
Hardly breathing, I stretched out my open palm and let him place the folded bill in it. As soon as he had released the paper, he broke into a huge smile, pressed his hands together and bowed his head to me.
The next hour was a surreal blur. Every time I went to their table, a $100 bill was pressed into my palm followed by a smile, folded hands, and a nod.
When they left, I had seven $100 bills in my pocket.
I never saw either of them again.