I’ve had some memorable experiences in my long life and some stand out a little better than others.
One such incident occurred while I was in the U. S. Navy. My ship, the U.S.S. Roanoke, docked in the Valencia, Spain harbor and some good times were in the making.
With the big ship properly geared for shore operations, liberty was sounded for those first in line and three friends and I were primed for some duty on solid soil.
In our dress blue uniforms and even eager for some life on earth, we paraded down a Valencia street in search of a nice watering hole. But it really wasn’t a watering hole you’d expect to find in your papaw’s backyard.
This one was a quaint little tavern with beverage barrels lining one wall and a few Spanish folks looking with interest as we walked in.
The waitress who came to our table for four was apparently well-groomed for her job and spoke fluent English. She properly filled our orders and we settled in for some far-away enjoyment by some typical-type U.S. sailors.
What that really means is that we were tired of drinking water distilled aboard our ship and powdered milk that would make a decent cow jump a 20-foot high barbed wire fence.
So, there we sat doing as best we could to make our foreign friends think we weren’t thirst-encased sailors trying our best to create a beverage shortage in Spain. In fact, we were quite orderly when an elderly man walked in and positioned himself at the end of the bar. He didn’t appear to be anybody very important and in fact, looked rather shabby.
Glancing at him from time to time, I began to feel kind of sorry for him and asked the waitress to take him whatever he wanted to drink.
The young lady fulfilled my request and the appreciative newcomer found a smile and a friendly nod in my direction.
Then the totally unexpected happened.
The waitress then returned to our table with tray of food that would have fed half of our ship’s crew. I mean that tray was loaded with food such as shrimp, lobster, chicken, steak and a mixture of great veggies.
“Where did this come from?” I asked the waitress. “We didn’t order this.”
“That’s OK,” she answered. “That old man at the end of the bar ordered it for you.”
“Come on,” I almost shouted, “We didn’t want him to do this.”
“That’s OK,” she said again. “He owns this place.”
And so it went in the lives of four sailors and an elderly bar owner who thrilled at the thought of an American serviceman buying him a drink.
Do to others as you would have them.