Finally, the homeless man revealed his true identity, and her boss felt a chill going down his spine. She saw his grin disappear from his face as he realized what had really been going on.
He had lost everything, starting with his reputation, which he valued so much. And he was well aware of it. She, on the other hand, could had never suspected that her good deed would have that type of consequences.
The Story Of Traci
Traci Bamm, a young woman from California, hadn't given up on her dreams, despite her circumstances.
She was working as a waitress in a restaurant. It was far from her dream job, but it paid the bills. Still, it barely left her any time for her nighttime classes. However, there was not much she could do at the moment. Little did she know, her situation was about to get worse.
On more than one occasion, Traci had seen a homeless man sitting outside her restaurant. Seeing there day after day broke her heart.
As Traci had seen, the man used to share his food with stray dogs and cats that ventured in the alleyway. He seemed friendly; he always smiled and greeted her when she came in and out of her shift. Something about that man pulled her heartstrings. She wanted to help him somehow. However, someone would get in the way of that.
Traci's restaurant wasn't your run-of-the-mill diner; as a matter of fact, it was one of the most prestigious restaurants in California. The chef, who was also the owner, had been awarded with two Michelin Stars.
His skills and creativity in the kitchen were unparalleled; however, so was his ego. He didn't like to delegate any responsibilities, and ran his staff like a commander. People feared him as much as they respected him. However, Traci knew how to handle him.
Traci was studying to become a chef. She loved the restaurant business, and she saw her job as priceless experience that she could leverage later on in her career.
She loved the place she worked at. However, seeing the derelict man standing outside that restaurant, where every dish cost more than a hundred dollars, made her feel a little bit guilty.
The Guilt She Felt
When Traci began working, the restaurant was on its heyday. Every big shot in California had had dinner there at least once, from celebrities to businessmen and producers.
And while the rich and famous spent hundreds of dollars on steaks and Champagne, that man had to sit on the street and beg people for some spare change. She felt like she had to do something about it.
At first glance, there didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary about the homeless man. However, Traci soon noticed something.
All the man did was greeting, smiling, and complimenting people who walked past him. Traci assumed that he would ask them for money, food, or clothes. But he didn't, and the young waitress found this baffling. One day, she felt like she had to act.
She Devised A Plan
Traci wanted to do something to help that man, whatever it took. She barely had any money to give him, as her studies and rent eat up all her income.
She didn't have any food either; she didn't even buy any groceries, as she had all her meals at the job. Maybe she could have given him some food scraps from the restaurant. But what if her boss found out? He wouldn't like it one bit...
A Good Deed
Traci wanted to do something for that man, and she was resolved to help him somehow. She didn't have any money to give him, but there was one thing she could do.
She decided to prepare him a meal with her own hands. It might be one of the few warm meals the man had in a long time. However, she would soon find out that there was a problem: getting the ingredients could be dangerous.
Traci devised a plan: she would borrow some ingredients from the restaurants and replace them with her next paycheck. She wanted the man to have the best meal of his life.
But she was well aware of something: if someone found out that she had stolen from the restaurant's supplies, she would be fired, maybe even arrested. However, she was resolved to do it, even if she had to pay the price.
Traci made sure her boss was preoccupied with a busy lunch service before she enacted her plan. She could hear the frantic clattering of pots and pans as he barked orders and swore at his sous chef. It was now or never.
She snuck into the pantry and selected two black truffles, a handful of fresh chanterelle mushrooms, eggs, and a bottle of Marcassin Chardonnay. She’d probably have to pick up a few more shifts so she could afford to replace them, but it would be worth it. Then, she heard her boss’ voice.
Traci’s heart began to pound out of her chest. Her boss was right outside, and she couldn’t escape. If he saw what she had, it would all be over.
She wasn’t even allowed to be in here. She prepared for the worst - she’d be screamed at, fired on the spot, and possibly hauled to jail for stealing. She was trapped.
Traci’s first instinct was to tuck her ill-gotten goods into her pockets and apron, but the bottle wouldn’t fit. The neck hung out accusingly.
Her eyes darted around, looking for somewhere to hide if her boss came in. She tried not to make a sound as she listened to his heavy footsteps. When she heard him walk away, she almost cried with relief. When she was sure he was gone, she dashed out the door.
Cooking From Her Heart
Traci hid the expensive ingredients in a bag in her locker for the duration of her shift. When it was finally over, she couldn’t get out of the restaurant fast enough.
As she lovingly fried the chanterelle mushrooms and kneaded the pasta dough in her apartment, she couldn’t stop thinking about what the homeless man’s face would look like when she presented him with the meal. Little did she know, the man hadn’t been entirely truthful to her.
Delivering The Meal
Traci plated up the homemade pasta and shaved the black truffles on top. She got out a crystal wineglass and packed everything neatly in a basket. Tonight, the homeless man would eat like a king.
Her heart fluttered as she rounded the corner, but she was relieved to see that the man was still there.
"I'm Traci," a nervous Traci smiled at the man. This close, she could see that he was of Middle Eastern descent.
She thought stealing the ingredients from the restaurant was hard enough. Approaching and talking to him was more challenging. Still, she'd pressed on. She was too far in to give up now. Little did she know the kind of trouble she was brewing for herself.
A Good Man
The man returned Traci's greeting. But he was more pleasant than she could ever imagine. He asked her how her night and commute to work that morning were.
He even complimented her on her dress, saying she looked like she was about to own whatever the day would throw her way. But behind his smile and compliments was a secret that would shatter Traci's world.
I Have Seen You
Traci told the man about her experience at the restaurant, stating that she'd seen the man outside for weeks. She couldn't handle the thought of him being alone here, so she wanted to help.
She presented her basket and showed the man its contents. The disbelief in his eyes told her everything she needed to know.
Is This Mine?
The man couldn't believe what was going on. He asked over and over again if the food was his. When Traci said yes, he dug in, savoring everything she had cooked for him.
He started with the wine, taking a whiff from the glass before swirling it around and sipping. He swooshed it inside his mouth for a few seconds and swallowed. But then he did the unexpected.
A Different Man
The man ate the food in the most refined manner Traci had ever seen. He even wiped his mouth before talking to her, and each word he spoke showed that he was a different man from what he was letting on.
The man ate each bite with closed eyes, smiling and grinning. He complimented Traci's cooking, telling her it had been a while since he tasted such good food. But there was more.
He's An Expert
He commented on Traci's ingredients, telling her what she could have used more or less. He even had something to say about her wine pairing, terming it a perfect choice for such a meal.
When he was done, Traci packed up everything and hurried into the restaurant. She'd spend the rest of the week stealing ingredients and feeding the man. But each time she did so, her mind would race with questions.
With each meal Traci offered, the homeless man would show expert prowess in fine dining. Something wasn't adding up. The man's knowledge was more than that of the ordinary Joe.
Traci couldn't understand it. She thanked the man for enjoying her cooking and quickly collected everything when he was done. She was sure he was hiding something from her.
The Questions Pile Up
Traci started spending her days wondering who the man was. She couldn't put her finger on it. She replayed everything she'd seen and heard. Who was the man, and why was he masquerading as homeless?
One day, Traci decided she'd question him after her shift. Maybe the man was under the employ of her boss, and she was stealing food to feed him.
Who Are You?
Traci raced to the man as soon as her shift was over. "Who are you," she asked with her brows drawn close. She couldn't believe she'd been stealing ingredients for him without knowing who he was.
The man smiled, asking her to take a deep breath. The sun was already setting behind him, lighting the street a deep orange. The man would spill everything.
"I used to be someone important," the man began. "From overseas. I loved life's good things: money, big houses, good food, parties, and fast cars."
His smile waned, "But I was sad and miserable. When you have status, suddenly, you cease being human. Everybody treats you like an object. Everything slowly loses meaning." But that didn't explain why he was living on the street.
Power And Status
"I left everything behind," continued the man. "I donated what I could and moved to America to be this," he patted his rags as if to emphasize the point.
"Without anything to my name, power, and status, I could finally feel human again. Seen." His lips curled, and his glossy eyes shot past Traci as if he was looking back at his past. What he said next left her speechless.
"I have been out in the world for two years," the man shared. "In all that time, you are the only one who's approached me out of her own volition."
"More than that, you went out of your way to cook me delicious meals. And don't think I didn't notice the expensive ingredients you used," he smiled. "I have a proposition."
An Offer You Can't Refuse
"Eating your food for the past few days has given me an idea," the man said. "How would you feel about running your own place? A restaurant dedicated to feeding the homeless and needy?"
Traci stepped back. She tilted her head to the side, wondering if any of this was genuinely happening. "I know how outrageous it sounds," the man chuckled. "Can I use your phone, please?"
Traci handed her phone over, and the man Googled something before handing it back. On her screen was a picture of some Middle Eastern oligarch and royalty- a man in his early thirties with the exact likeness of the homeless man before her.
"I still have reach back home," he said. "I could fund your project, help you build, and stand with you until you are strong enough to run independently."
Kindness All Over The World
Traci couldn't believe it. The man asked for her phone again and called someone. The next day, Traci didn't find him in his usual spot on the street. But some hours into her shift, a convoy of expensive SUVs pulled up the restaurant's driveway.
The homeless man walked out of one of them. He was clean and sharply dressed, surrounded by bodyguards and women dressed in suits. He asked for Traci by name, saying, "Come help me spread kindness to the world."
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.