Encounter in the food court

ramen soup.jpg

Remaining on the food theme for a little bit, last week I had three of the kids with me at home and I decided I couldn’t stay in the house all day and took the two who wanted to come with me to a local food court where I knew I could get a Macca’s kids’ meal for the little boy, sushi for the girl, and a good bowl of short soup for me.

I didn’t find the short soup, but there was a cardboard sign at the place selling sushi which read ‘SPICY! Korean ramen’. I chose the beef version and it was awesome – a deep bowl of spiced broth with masses of thin curly noodles, topped with silky ribbons of beef, vegetables, and crispy nori strips. It had a good level of heat from the spice and was one of the cheapest lunch options in the place, at $6.

While we were eating, a lady with a shopping trolley stopped by our table and said she wanted to ask me something but didn’t want the children to hear. I shifted in my chair, slightly in her direction. My mind raced, taking in details. She looked a bit older than me, dark casual clothing, no make-up, her trolley looked pretty empty. She was alone and unsmiling. Was she going to ask me for money? Was she in some kind of trouble? Would I have to call someone to help her? Or was she going to steal my handbag? What?

“I have a cheeseburger I ordered with the rest of my meal but now I’m too full and I saw you with the children. Would you like to take it? Otherwise, I’m just going to throw it in the bin and it’s a shame to waste it.”

“Oh ok, yeah sure, thank you. I’m the same about wasting food.”

“Here, it’s still wrapped inside the bag. I didn’t touch it. I mean – I just didn’t want your children to hear in case you didn’t want them to have it.”

The moment to me seemed cast with a blessed (though awkward) note of noticing, being noticed, giving, and receiving. I felt really bad about my suspicion. I thanked her again, and my daughter said thank you too and then there was a weird moment because she didn’t walk on straight away, but stood there looking at me, still not smiling, while I took the grease-smeared bag and put it on the table next to me.

Then I remembered I was misty-eyed and flush-cheeked from the noodle soup and it crossed my mind, absurdly, that maybe she thought I was much more moved by her gesture than I was. “I’m sorry, I’m crying because of all the chilli in this soup! But their sister’s at home and we’ll take this back for her.” She smiled and moved on.

“That’s a nice lady,” my daughter said.

She couldn’t wait to get home, give her older sister the burger and wait until she was halfway through it before telling her it was a random lady’s left-overs from the food court. 🙂

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