The King’s Smiles

The Kings SmilesThe other day I was in Oakland, California on some mundane business. For a quick cheap lunch I went to a Burger King on Broadway.

As I was mindlessly eating the mildly appetizing Whopper, I smelled an odor that felt like somebody didn’t take a shower for a few days. Sure enough, standing in front of my table was this middle-aged, ragged-clothed man looking at my French fries. In a reflex I asked him if he would like to have some. He said he’d love to. So I split up my fries into two little stacks. I put one stack in a fresh napkin and pushed it toward him. Before he took it he was looking about for a seat. I pointed at the empty seat at my table and asked him to join me. He gave me a shy thank-you and sat down.

From the way he put away the fries I could tell he hadn’t eaten for a while. I cut apart my burger and gave him the clean half. He said thank-you again, stuck his hand out and told me his name was Darryl. I shook his hand and introduced myself. Then we started talking about the rain, the cold and the sometimes miserable Forty-Niners. We were just a couple of old friends.

I didn’t want to share my coffee, so I gave him $1.25 to get his own. He proudly lined up at the counter and bought a small cup with lots of sugar and lots of cream. He came back and finished every fry and every last bit of that half burger. Before I knew it, the beef in my hand grew juicier and my coffee was better than the usual latte at Starbuck’s.

Darryl might have got half of a meal from me, but I had the better bargain out of his semi-toothless smiles.

*** The End ***

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