About 20 years ago, on a late Spring evening, a young man was pacing up and down outside a little self serve café, he finally walked in the café timidly as the café was also empty.
He went to the counter and said, “Excuse me, I would like to order a bowl of rice please?”
The young couple, who started this café not long ago, was a bit disappointed when they realised he was not going to order other dishes, but still filled up a bowl of rice for him.
When the young man paid for the bowl of rice, he asked, “Excuse me, can I use those sauces on the side counter?”
The female owner replied with a friendly smile, “Sure, go help yourself, they are free of charge!”
The young man sat down to eat his rice with sauces. When he was half way, he went to order another bowl of rice.
The male owner said, “One bowl is definitely not enough, I’ll fill it up a bit more this time.”
“Oh no,” the young man replied, “it’s for my lunch, I’ll take it to college tomorrow.”
The male owner thought the young man must be struggling financially, so he could only afford a bowl of plain rice for his meal. Out of sympathy, he decided to add a spoonful of their special mince meat plus a tea leaf egg at the bottom of the bowl, then filled up the bowl with rice – you would have been fooled by the take away bowl and thought it’s just rice.
His wife saw what he did and understood he wanted to help the young man, but she didn’t understand why he hid the meat and egg under the rice; until the husband explained, “If he saw we’ve added the other food to the rice, he might think we are pitying him, that would hurt his self-esteem. He might feel ashamed and wouldn’t come back again. If he went to another store and just ate rice, how would he have enough energy to study?”
“You are such a good man, honey, always considering others’ feelings.”
“Well, if I was not good, would you still marry me?”
The young couple felt so happy to be able to help.
When the young man finished his bowl of rice and came over to pick up the heavy weighted take away rice, he couldn’t help but look at the owners with question marks all over his face.
“Work hard in your study! We’ll see you tomorrow!” the owner waved good bye to the young man, hoping he will return to their café tomorrow. The young man started to tear up, but he didn’t want the young couple to notice.
From that evening onwards, apart from long holiday, the young man would come to this little café to order 2 bowls of rice, 1 for dinner and 1 for lunch. The owners had decided to hide different types of meat under his take away bowl of rice. This had became a little unspoken secret between the 3 of them.
The couple had also decided to keep the same price for the young man’s bowl of rice. The 3 of them would chat about his study and life, a special bond had formed, until the young man graduated a few years later.
About 20 years later, the couple, who were now in their late 40’s still ran the same little self serve café, received the Council Notification of demolition of illegal constructions in the area. With inflation over the years and their limited saving, as they supported their son to study abroad, they wouldn’t be able to run their little café in the same area, to serve their regular customers; but had to start everything all over again, when they were almost 50. Facing the possibilities of unemployment in their age and all the uncertainties ahead of them, they didn’t know what to do.
While they were trying to pick themselves up, a suited man came into the café. He didn’t place an order, he just said to them, “Hello, I am the Assistant General Manager of xxx Co. Ltd., our CEO told me to invite you to run a self serve café in our newly built office building. All the facilities and food will be provided by our company, you just need to bring your cooking skills. Your café and our company will share the profit 50/50.”
“Who is your CEO? Why does he treat us with such good favour? We haven’t known any important people like that in our lives!”
“All I know is both of you had treated our CEO very well and he loves eating your café’s mince and tea leaf egg with a big bowl of rice. You’ll need to ask him for other details when he comes.”
The couple looked at each other with a puzzled look on their faces. Later on, a man in a suit came in the café, he greeted the couple and thanked them. He told them he was the young man, who only ordered 2 bowls of rice every evening, 1 for dinner and 1 for lunch. He also said if it was not their continuous encouragements and the unspoken secret, he wouldn’t have been able to complete his study and definitely wouldn’t be able to achieve what he has achieved and became a big company’s CEO. The couple was so pleased and amazed with what he had offered them.
They kept catching up until it was time to head home. The CEO stood up, said his goodbye and right before he stepped out from the café, he turned around, gave the couple a deep bow and said, “Work hard in running the café, our company relies on your help. We’ll see you tomorrow!”
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