A poor young man who makes his living from hot dogs feeds a lonely old lady in the park for free every day. In return, she invites him to her café and he is shocked, to say the least.
It was a busy day for 24-year-old Justin. Although his hot dog stand at the local park in his hometown worked well every day, this day was different. The stall was crowded with customers and he could hardly keep up with them.
“Three more hot dogs and sauces please!” – someone orders as Justin prepares the last orders and he quickly gets to work.
“He responded with a smile by quickly assembling the three hot dogs and adding a generous amount of sauces on top.
“Thank you! Have a lovely day!”the customer responds by receiving the orders, and Justin quickly gets to work with the next order. While he was there, he noticed an old woman making her way through the crowd to get to her counter.
“Excuse me, son. How much is a hot dog?” – she asks, looking at him.
“That depends on what you want, ma’am. They range from three to seven dollars. You can look at the menu and let me know what you want,” he replies, picking up a fresh hot dog.
“But it’s a bit pricey for me,” she muttered, looking at the prices. “That’s all right. I was just wondering how much they cost. I don’t need one,” she added, before leaving.
Justin noticed that she came over and sat down alone on the bench opposite his stall. She kept looking in his direction and he realised that she wanted a hot dog but could not afford one. He felt bad for her, so he quickly prepared a hot dog for her and brought it to her.
“I apologize, ma’am. I was in such a hurry that I forgot to tell you that you’re our 50th customer of the day, so you get a free hot dog! On the house,” he said. “Let me know how you like it!”
“Oh, really?” – The old lady asked. “I appreciate it, son. I appreciate it. By the way, my name is Emily.”
“I’m Justin. Here,” he said, handing her a hot dog. She tasted it right away and was shocked at how good it tasted. “You put something in it, didn’t you?” – she asked. “It’s different from regular hot dogs,” she added, taking another bite.
Justin smiles: “I love to cook, so I’m always trying different things with my food. My mom was also a fantastic cook and created her own secret sauce recipes. I once advised my boss to use my mother’s sauces for hot dogs, but he said it was too expensive and told me not to do it. But I only make them for my friends on occasion. I’m glad you liked it! Anyway, I have to hurry. I have customers waiting for me. Have a good day,” he said before he left.
Emily ate the hot dog with gusto, and Justin smiled as he watched from a distance as she happily ate. He was happy to have helped the old lady.
The next day, when Emily returned to the park, Justin spotted her and offered her another hot dog. Emily refused because she didn’t have any money, but he insisted, and she couldn’t refuse.
“I’m so glad someone is trying my mom’s sauces, Emily. Believe me, I don’t mind paying out of my own pocket. Besides, from my perspective, it’s not exactly free. Your opinion is important to me so I can improve my sauces and my business!”
“Oh, you’re such a sweet boy, Justin,” smiled Emily through tears. “Thank you”.
In her heart, Emily knew that Justin was feeding her because she couldn’t afford a hot dog. At some point she felt bad and told him that it was not necessary. But he continued to feed her every day. And not only that. He paid special attention to her hot dog and made it with poppy buns because it was his favorite dish, and then lavishly poured it with his secret sauces.
One day, as Emily was returning to the park, Justin spotted her and greeted her. Emily approached his kiosk and stopped in front of him.
“Today I’m making one of my mom’s most special recipes, Emily. You have to try and tell me if you like it, okay?” he said.
Emily’s shaking her head. ” Not today, Justin. I counted the hot dogs you bought me, and you already spent $100 on me. In these days of inflation and skyrocketing prices no one will do it for a stranger out of their pocket. Now it’s my turn to help you, boy. Come with me”.
“Emily, I already told you…”
“I know, I know your review story,” said Emily. “But you’re coming with me, and I won’t listen anymore!”.
Justin had no idea where she was taking him, but she was so insistent that he couldn’t say no. He closed his kiosk for the day and went with Emily, who led him to an old building that looked like an abandoned cafe.
“What is this place? Why are we here?” said Justin, baffled by the sight of a building in need of major repairs.
“It’s yours now, Justin. It’s your cafe,” she says, and Justin stares at her in puzzlement.
“My cafe? What do you mean?” he asks.
Emily smiles, “This cafe used to belong to my husband,” she says. ” When he died nine years ago, there was no one to run the business, and it eventually closed. This would never have happened if I knew how to run a business. We opened a cafe together and thought our son would go into business.
“But he had other plans,” she sighs. ” He’s only interested in making easy money, and he keeps asking for my savings. He owned most of them, and he wanted me to sell this place to get money from the sale. I refused because it reminded me of my husband, and I didn’t want to waste money on his nonsense. I asked him to restore the cafe, but he refused.”
“That’s when God made me meet you, Justin. Seeing how you like to cook, I thought you deserved it. I remember you once told me you wanted to be a chef at a restaurant.
I know I can’t help you with the renovations, but I can give you this property so you can open your cafe. It’s the least I can do in exchange for you feeding me. You see, I’m living off my husband’s savings, which isn’t much, and I can’t afford much, but thanks to you, I was able to have a delicious lunch almost every day. Thank you, my son. I will always thank you for that”.
Tears came to Justin’s eyes. “It means a lot to me, Emily, but giving up an entire property in exchange for hot dogs is too much. It wouldn’t be fair if I took it. I can’t keep it, please…..”
“Of course you can,” she said. “You didn’t just feed me. You expected nothing in return for the kindness you showed me, and you still want nothing in return. You’re a selfless child, Justin, and you deserve it. My husband and I would be happy if you would take him. He would like our café to be run by someone who works hard. Please, I insist.”
When Emily insisted, Justin could not refuse. He took out a loan and borrowed money from friends and acquaintances to start his business. The start was slow, but word spread, and many regular customers who liked the cafe started coming every day.
By then Justin had left his job selling hot dogs, but he was still making them at his new café, which had three specialties on the menu: one named after his mother, who had left him her delicious sauces, and the other two named after Emily and her late husband, David. But that’s not all.
Justin, who lost both his parents in a terrible car accident when he was 12, found a new companion and maternal support in Emily, who was a huge fan of his cooking, especially his hot dogs and delicious sauces!