The manager of an exclusive restaurant humiliates a humble-looking man until one of her best customers intervenes.
It was a busy Saturday at one of Boston's most exclusive gourmet restaurants, the Fourchette d'Or, when a slender middle-aged man in a brown suit walked in. The maître d' led him to one of the tables tucked away in a corner of the huge room.
Within minutes, a waiter was by his side, handing him a menu. The Fourchette d'Or prided itself on its service as well as its exquisite cuisine. It also prided itself on its wealthy, sophisticated clientele and Hilary Dorset, the manager, was not impressed by the looks of this new customer.
Car outside a luxurious restaurant | Source: Shutterstock
Hilary walked over to the front desk and spoke to the maître d'. "Why did you let that man in?" she asked, gesturing towards the man in brown who was discussing the wine list with the waiter.
"He had a reservation, Miss. Dorset," the maître d' explained, "a Mr. Gardner."
"I've never heard of him," snapped Hilary. "And he doesn't look like he can afford a hamburger at a truck stop, let alone a meal at the Fourchette d'Or!" She gestured Mr. Gardner's waiter over. "What did that man order?" she asked.
Hilary discovered that worth and wealth are two very different things.
"Ma'am, he ordered the pepper steak, and he asked for French fries instead of the Dauphinoise...," the waiter said.
Fancy restaurant | Source: Pexels
"And?" Hilary snapped, "what else?"
"Nothing else, Miss Hilary, he said he'd order dessert later," the waiter explained.
"And wine?" Hilary asked.
"Ma'am, he asked for a Château Lafite Rothschild 2002, red," the waiter said.
"And you brought it to him?" Hilary gasped. "That's a $1,200 dollar bottle of wine, you IDIOT! If he can't pay for it, believe me, you will!"
Man in a suit | Source: Unsplash
Hilary spun around and marched across the restaurant, returning greetings of some of the Fourchette d'Or's regular patrons. She stopped next to Mr. Gardner's table and looked down at him with distaste.
The man looked even tattier at close range. His disreputable brown suit was shiny at the elbows and frayed at the cuffs, and was of an ancient cut. Hilary doubted that it had been dashing when brand new...
"Mr. Gardner?" she asked.
The man smiled up at her. "Yes!" he said, "I'm Mr. Gardner."
"Sir, did you notice that our menu has no prices?" she asked in a cold voice.
"Yes, I did," said Mr. Gardner. "That's a bit unusual, isn't it?"
Pouring a glass of red wine | Source: Unsplash
"That's because for the patrons of the Fourchette d'Or, money is no object when it comes to the best cuisine in New York City," Hilary said.
"I was told you are the best, and if the food matches the wine, you are the best, and not only in New York!" said Mr. Gardner, toasting Hilary with a glass of the Château Lafite Rothschild 2002.
"So you have no idea how much this is going to cost you? You think you can afford it?" Hilary looked pointedly at Mr. Gardner's clothes. "Because to be honest with you, Mr. Gardner, you look more than a little out of place here!"
Mr. Gardner blushed scarlet and looked very embarrassed. He was about to open his mouth in reply when a loud voice interrupted, "Horace! Horace Gardner, is that you?"
A big man got up from one of the nearby tables and walked over. He greeted Mr. Gardner enthusiastically and shook his hand. "What are you doing here?" he asked, "I thought you were in France somewhere?"
Gourmet steak | Source: Pexels
Mr. Gardner got up and greeted the man. Hilary recognized him as one of New York's wealthiest and most influential businessmen. "I'm here to close a deal, David," Mr. Gardner said smiling. "I bought myself a TV station."
"You did?" cried his friend, obviously impressed. "That's great! But where is Karen?"
"Oh, Karen is in Monaco with the grandchildren. And thank God, or she'd be nagging me!"
David grinned. "Karen adores you, and after 30 years of marriage that's something, so don't complain!"
Mr. Gardner smiled ruefully and looked down at his suit. "Yes, but she hates this suit. It's my lucky suit. I wore it when I signed my first deal, and I like to wear it when I start a new project...And this young lady seems to agree with her..."
Shocked woman | Source: Pexels
It was Hilary's turn to flush with embarrassment. "I'm so sorry," she said, "I thought...You didn't look..."
"Young lady," said Mr. Gardner calmly, "I've learned not to judge people by how they look. I bought this suit when I was 23, and it was the most expensive purchase I'd ever made. I was poor, and I made my money the hard way.
"I'm proud of who I am, and I'm very proud of this suit. It's plain, hardworking, and durable -- like me."
Hilary smiled nervously and backed away. She was deeply ashamed of herself and realized that Mr. Gardner was right. She had become the kind of person who judged people by their appearance, not their true worth.
What can we learn from this story?
1. You can't judge a person by their appearance -- Hilary discovered that worth and wealth are two very different things.
2. Don't forget who you are -- Mr. Gardner might have become a billionaire but he never forgot his roots, his values, or how he started out.
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