Johnson Babalola
November 18, 2023

A Grateful Encounter at XYZ Restaurant

There’s a restaurant in Abuja, Nigeria, let’s call it XYZ, where I’m a regular whenever I am in the city. One of the perks of dining there is the ability to customize my order, especially the stew. I usually request, “No Maggi and salt, please,” and the staff accommodates with additions like ground dried fish and prawns for flavor. I’ve become familiar with the servers over the years, and the service has consistently been excellent. After each meal, I make it a point to show my appreciation with reasonable tips.

However, in July of this year, during one of my visits, an unexpected incident occurred. I had just enjoyed a delightful meal of plantain flour, bitter leaf soup, and croaker fish, washed down with a glass of Guinness. Content and satisfied, I called for the POS to settle the bill. KT, a server I’d known for years, arrived with the machine. To my dismay, my card was declined. Panicking, I checked my bank account, which had no issues, but the problem persisted.

KT suggested I try multiple times, but luck was not on my side. I overheard others facing the same issue. I heard a man sitting not too far from my table thanking his wife for having some cash on her, “but for you, this would have been very embarrassing”, he said to the wife who responded with what seemed like a “I got your back always” smile. Always delightful to see spouses support each other in harmony when the need arises. Well, I knew they were married because someone had earlier greeted them as “Mr and Mrs FGH”.

I tried bank transfer. It did not go through. “It is a network issue sir”, KT announced the obvious. He then asked if I had some cash on me, I checked my pockets and found almost enough, falling short by N1,000. Regretfully, I eyed the poor empty glass of Guinness with my “if” thought and muttered: “If only I had left you alone in the restaurant’s fridge, I would have saved N1,500, which would have left me with enough cash to settle my bill”, Well, I should not dwell on the past but must try to find a way out of the situation. I handed the money to KT, planning to discuss the remaining balance once he was done with counting the cash.

Upon counting, KT thanked me and bid me farewell without addressing the shortfall. Puzzled, I informed him of the N1,000 deficit. To my surprise, he assured me, “I will add it before I give it to the cashier.” Shocked, I questioned his generosity, to which he replied, “It’s not your fault there’s a network issue, and you’ve been more than generous with your tips over the years. Adding N1,000 to complete your bill is a pleasure, sir.” I expressed my appreciation to KT and headed for the door to exit the restaurant.

Just as I was about to exit, KT came to me with a reminder, “sir, please always have enough cash on you when you go out as there might arise, situations like today, when you will need cash. This is Nigeria sir, a good country where some things work well and where in other cases, they don’t.  Take care sir.”

Reflecting on the incident, I left with a renewed belief that despite challenges, Nigeria is filled with good-hearted individuals. In a world where some may not acknowledge small gestures, there are those who express gratitude when least expected and, perhaps, when it matters most.

Johnson Babalola, a Canada and Nigeria based lawyer, leadership consultant, storyteller and corporate emcee, is a public affairs analyst. Follow him for discussions on real life issues that affect us all.

You can obtain a copy of his newly released book, REJECTED on Amazon, FriesenPress, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Apple Books, Nook Store etc.