Sitting with an empty wallet in a restaurant that only accepts cash, I thought of calling a friend, who was at that moment desperately looking for his missing cell phone.
It happens to us all. Seeing that "Cash Only" sign hanging on the restaurant door at the end of our solitary meal, and finding to our great dismay that, despite those "accepted everywhere" major credit cards and except for a few loose pennies, we are out of cash. We blush, anticipating the embarrassing moment when the friendly waitress brings the bill with a big smile; we panic, knowing that the nearest ATM machine is at least twenty minutes away; we regret not having checked our wallets before entering and not having come with a friend; we ask ourselves, what are you gonna do?
Well, I could call my friend Yu Chen, I thought as I regained my composure. At that time, I was eating by myself in the restaurant Katana Ya. I had almost finished my meal before I opened my wallet and found no cash in it. I contemplated my way out of this dilemma, and Yu Chen came into my mind. After all, he was partially responsible for my situation. Had he let me use my credit card to pay for the meal that we had together the previous night with a few other friends, I would not have depleted my cash reserve. No, he had to make those award points, he explained complacently as he collected cash from us. Of course, the other benefit of paying the group meal with one's credit card is to get cash without a visit to a bank ATM. Yu Chen took advantage of us all.
Yu Chen was my instinctive choice of rescue for other reasons too. He lived close by, no further away than the closest ATM of my knowledge. He was always ready to help his friends in need. He knew the location of the restaurant, since we had dined in it together. (He had a funny way to say the name of the restaurant -- "Kata--naya" -- making the name sound Polish instead of Japanese.) He had cash in his pocket, those very twenty dollar bills that he had harvested from us the night before; therefore he would not be delayed by a detour to his bank.
The thought of Yu Chen gave me back comfort and appetite. With ease I ingested the last few bites of my meal. Having washed down the food with ice water, I took out my cell phone to summon help. I dialed, and eagerly listened to the long ring tones. Three rings without answer. My waitress gracefully put down my bill tray and took away my plate. My anxiety grew. Five rings, still no answer. Six rings, I hang up. Where was Yu Chen?
Yu Chen was, at that very moment, pressing his face against the restaurant window to assure my presence at the table. Presently he pushed open the door and entered.
“I am in a hurry.” he said, “I could not find my cell phone. I am really worried that it might be stolen.”
“No wonder”, I smiled. But my inappropriate comment was lost on Yu Chen, who continued with urgency.
“I was at work. Then I realized that my cell phone was not with me. So I took the bus back immediately. I must go home now and check if I have left it there." he said, and was on his way out again.
Confronted with his distress, I had not for a single second forgot my own. "Hold on a second", I grabbed the back of his shirt, explained my problem, and asked for a loan. As Yu Chen opened his wallet, I had a glimpse of all the greenbacks that he had happily taken from us the night before. He offered me a twenty, the same bill, I suspected, that had been transferred from my wallet to his. My waitress witnessed our transactions with a tinge of relief on her face. I offered Yu Chen to call his cell phone to see if anybody had it. He said that was the first thing he had done once he found his phone missing. I bid him good luck, and told him that I would stop by his home later to return his money and to see if he would have found his phone. This I did. Expectedly, Yu Chen had left his cell phone at home and had found it. He thanked me for calling it, not knowing the true purpose of my call.
But is there someone to whom I should be grateful? When my call went to a cell phone far away from its owner, when my intended rescuer was not at home nearby as I had hoped, who made him pass by the restaurant, and who made him turn his head to see me in there? Angels in Katana Ya.