This particular tale of giving is dedicated to a kind waiter I met on a weekend trip to Amsterdam.
Let me start by prefacing the story:
Two friends are traveling in Amsterdam for the first time and have turned to AirBnb for comfort for days one and two of their stay; day three will be spent in Germany, at a friend’s house. Come day three, said friend with whom the travelers are supposed to stay with suddenly cannot make it (he is also the two friends’ ride to Germany). Awkward. The sun has almost set, and the girls are left stranded in Amsterdam, homeless. Train tickets have sold out, and all decent hostels have hiked up in price. In defeat, they walk (luggage in hand) to find dinner, where they will decide what to do. One of the girl’s phones is dead. To top it all off, it has begun to rain.
And so begins the tale of the magical Thai waiter…
Walking into the unassuming hole in the wall with wet clothes and defeat, my traveling partner and I are greeted by a smiling man at the door. The waiter, who is in his 50s, walks us into the restaurant, his name I regretfully have forgotten. Noticing our woeful demeanors, our friendly waiter seats us with a smile and returns with hot tea. He also mentions that I resemble a Thai princess, which makes us laugh. Hearing more laughter, my traveling buddy and I turn to see the crew of employees are staring toward our way, cracking up as well.
We decide to share our dilemma to our enthusiastic waiter. In a hopeless daze, I audaciously ask if he has an iPhone 4 charger. Worth a shot I think, knowing that we’ll be there a while. The waiter miraculously says yes and happily charges my phone, the source of all our travel planning. He sympathizes with us and returns to the restaurant crew, who are all learning about our sorry situation. A jolly couple walks in. It turns out they are the restaurant owners. My waiter scurries toward them and has a little chat, then all three look over to us with similar looks of warmth and friendliness. Is this a Thai thing? Or Dutch? Maybe a mix of both?
As my traveling buddy and I begin to make light of our situation, joking about the idea of sleeping on park benches, our waiter has brought us complimentary appetizers to cheer us up. It works, and we happily munch away.
After a while of absence, our smiling waiter returns, telling us not to worry and that we can stay at his house. A generous gesture indeed, but the stranger-cautious girls in us politely decline. Aware of our reservations, the waiter says “I know two girls maybe not comfortable sleep at boy’s house, but I ask owner, and you can sleep at her house too, if like.” The owner is looking over with a smile and approaches us to confirm her sincere offer.
Overwhelmed by their kindness, we are stunned by their generosity, but have already made the decision to go to the airport and return home to Barcelona on the next flight. With our choice aside, it was still a wonderful feeling to know those strangers truly cared about our well-being.
Looking back, I only wish I could’ve remembered our waiter’s name, the name of the restuarant, or just something! May this article be my open thanks to the people at the Thai restaurant in Amsterdam, a city replete with kind and cheerful inhabitants. I promise I’ll be back to that little Thai restaurant, one day.