Pete's Diner & Christina's KQED Gift

Pete's Diner & Christina's KQED Gift

Maxwell Ryan
Dec 19, 2008

Here are two stories about "giving" that we're collecting from readers and publishing this week. To find out more or submit your own >> click here.

From Linda:

Michele and I stumbled into a diner on Route 66 in Grants, New Mexico for breakfast. We were the only customers in a worn down dining room. Its Greek owner, Pete, pushed a wheel-cart to our table and brought us the best coffee we'd had in weeks. This story is not ours. It is Pete's.

Pete and his wife ran this diner in the day when Route 66 was the main road out West. They were bursting with business.

One day, a young man entered the diner and asked Pete if he could have something to eat in exchange for washing dishes. Pete was fully staffed and didn't need any more help, but he said, "Choose something from the menu, and I'll find a chore for you."...

A few days later the young man returned and again a few days after that. For a couple of months, he stopped in fairly often for a meal, but Pete didn't get to know Eliot so well to really know why he was in need. And then Eliot disappeared. Pete didn't see him again and though he thought of him a few times, he figured he must have moved on as drifters do.

About 10 years later, Pete was still working in his diner when someone came in asking for him. He made his way to the table to find a very well dressed gentleman asking if Pete could join him for a cup of coffee. Pete was busy, and didn't recognize the man, but he sat down and waved to one of his waiters to bring them coffee. "What can I do for you?" asked Pete. A rush of heat filled the mans face, "I am the father of a young man who was lost in his life and took to traveling around out here. We lost touch with him for about five years, but he finally did come home and he is doing fine now." Their coffee arrived and they thanked the waiter. The man continued, "He told me that while he was in this area that he traded some small jobs with you for meals and that the meals were always larger than the jobs themselves. I came to thank you for your kindness to him and to find a way I can repay you." Pete reflected, "What is your sons name?" he asked. "Eliot," the man said, "he had longer blonde hair then and was quite thin." Pete's face lit up, "Why of course, I remember him. He was a good worker too. You don't need to thank me, he made a fair trade." Pete always deflected gratitude, but he was sincere with his comments about Eliot's work.

Though Eliot's father was initially insistent to find a way to repay Pete for his kindness, Pete quickly moved the conversation on to other topics, asking questions about Eliot's life, considering what Jimmy Carter might do as president, and telling stories about the diner in its hey-day. The conversation naturally moved to the man's family and to Pete's own family. They soon found that Pete's brother worked at the Eastern airlines ticket counter in the Boston airport. Eliot's father also worked for Eastern airlines in Boston, but in the main office. "What a coincidence!" they agreed. As they parted, they shook hands and then hugged and the father agreed to look up the brother and to send on Pete's warm greetings to Eliot. "Tell him, I've got a great breakfast ready for him if he is out this way again," Pete chuckled.

About a month later, Pete received a call from his brother in Boston. The day before, he was called to meet one of the senior directors of the airline. When he arrived for the meeting that morning, Eliot's father offered that he could promote him into any area of the company of his choosing.

Linda Ciampoli


From Christina:

This year my friends and I decided to volunteer together at a local food bank as a way to share time together as well as help others. Rather than spending money on presents, this is our gift to one another. My friend organized this by email. Please see her message below. Soon we will choose our day of giving. This is so easy to do and I hope this simple story inspires others. Happy Holidays!

- Christina Jimenez

> > OK, so I know it's a rough holiday season for
> everyone and I'm sure you're
> > all cutting back & feeling the pinch, so I
> > thought...after listening to a KQED radio program
> (below)...that perhaps
> > this is would be the year to trade some shopping time
> (that I can't afford
> > anyways :) for some volunteer time at a local food
> bank/soup kitchen for the
> > holidays and help out those that are struggling even
> more (those needing
> > food assistance has increased over 20% this year in
> California).
> >
> > And I thought it would be even more appropriate (&
> fun!) to do it with
> > friends & family.
> >
> > So I'd like to organize a day during the Christmas
> Holiday (Dec 22nd-30th),
> > for those interested, to volunteer for the Food Bank
> of Contra Costa &
> > Solano County (
> >
> > If you're interested...and I hope you are :)...
> please let me know what
> > day/time(s) would work for you:
> > //
> > I'll try to find the best day/time and find us a
> location after Turkey Day.
> >
> > The radio program that inspired me:
> > KQED Forums: //
> >
> > How to organize a food drive at your work-place:
> >
> >
> //
> >


(Painting by Sebastian Stoskopff via Ancient Industries)

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