Joe kept a specific table reserved at his seaside cafe for 33 years. Regardless of what customers demanded, he refused to allow anyone to sit at the table until one fateful day.
Joe’s new customers walked into his cafe and never dared to sit at the table with the candlelight on and the ‘reserved’ sign on it. But his regular customers would constantly bug him about the table. “Why won’t you let us sit there? No one ever comes regardless of the reservation,” they would complain.
“I don’t care; it’s reserved,” Joe said.
One day, one of the regular customers was feeling particularly impatient and asked one of the waiters why Joe was so insistent on keeping the table reserved. “What is your boss’s problem?” she demanded.
“Look, it’s a sad story, don’t pester him,” the waitress said. “Joe’s parents owned this cafe before him. 33 years ago, when he was 18, he was madly in love with a girl named Linda, but her parents didn’t think Joe was good enough for her and forbade her from seeing him.”
“Okay, now I’m interested, you have to tell me the whole story,” the customer begged.
“Well, the parents moved to Europe with Linda as soon as the school year ended. But the day before the family left, Joe ran over to her house and asked Linda to join him at the cafe. He told her that he reserved a table for her and a candle would be lit, waiting for her to join him,” the waitress said.
As the waitress explained the rest of the story, she told the customer that Joe had waited for Linda at the cafe, but she never came. Her parents forbade her from going to see Joe one last time. On that night, Joe promised himself he would keep the table reserved, with the candle lit, in the hopes Linda would return one day.
“Wow, that is such a sad story; I feel bad for pestering him about the table,” the customer said and left the cafe.
One day, a lady walked into the cafe and was headed toward’s Joe’s reserved table when the waitress stopped her. “No, ma’am, I’m sorry, but that table is reserved,” she said.
“Well, good, because I reserved it 33 years ago, and I’d like to finally use it,” she replied.
Stunned by what the woman said, the waitress didn’t know what to say. Then she managed to blurt out, “Please wait here. I’ll be back in two minutes,” and rushed to find Joe at the back of the cafe.
“I need you to come to the front; a lady is saying she reserved your table 33 years ago,” she said. Joe didn’t even respond and rushed to the cafe. As soon as he saw the woman, he realized it was Linda and ran to her. They stood staring at one another for some time.
Joe pulled a chair for Linda, and they sat down at the table that had been waiting for her for three decades. “You look beautiful,” Joe said.
“Even after all this time?” Linda asked.
“Of course you are… What happened the night before you left?” Joe couldn’t help but ask.
“Oh, Joe! My parents physically blocked the door to make sure I wouldn’t leave. I was adamant about going to Europe and coming back to you as soon as possible,” Linda said.
“But what made you give up?” Joe asked.
“My mother forged a letter from you. The letter said you were getting married soon and you were about to have a baby with your fiancée,” Linda said. “I gave up. I was so heartbroken that I just tried to forget you as soon as I could.”
Joe was shocked to hear this. He understood that Linda’s parents didn’t want him to be with her, but he had no idea that they would go so far as to prevent her from coming back by lying to her about him. “I never got married or had children. I was so sure you would come back to me,” Joe quietly said.
“Well, I eventually got married and had two children. My children are so amazing, and I had a good marriage for a while, but he left me five years ago,” Linda explained.
Joe was sorry to hear that Linda’s marriage had ended. But he was happy that she had children and managed to live a whole life even though it wasn’t with her. “A beautiful woman like you probably got married again,” he said, eliciting a laugh in the process.
“No, I didn’t. I went on with my life focused on my children,” Linda replied. “Two years ago, my mother died, though.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Joe said.
“No, don’t be. That was when I found your real letters. I read all of them and decided to return. I needed to wind up my mother’s estate, so it took a little while,” Linda said.
That day, the pair spoke for hours until after the cafe closed down. Linda eventually lived in a guest house for a few weeks but moved in with Joe after. They remained inseparable for years and ran the cafe together. Every evening, they enjoyed dinner together at the same candlelit table, making up for the time they lost.
What can we learn from this story?
Compassion is essential towards people whose actions we don’t understand. The customer rightfully felt bad after pestering Joe about the reserved table; her understanding could have made the situation less stressful.
Commitment to our loved ones can enhance our lives. Joe remained committed to Linda even after 33 years apart by keeping a table reserved for her. When she returned, they revived their relationship.
Please share this story with your friends; it might inspire people to share their own stories or help someone else.
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