Last week I returned from Australia. It was my first long haul holiday and also the first that I took all on my own. There are lots of stories I could tell you but I wanted to share one about human kindness.
In my last few hours in Melbourne before I flew thousands of miles home I wandered the streets looking for somewhere to eat. I stumbled across Pho & Co and since Pho (I’ve even made it myself before) is only second to ramen on my favourite foods I thought I’d treat myself.
I ordered summer rolls (chicken) and a bowl of their eye fillet pho. I had expected my started to come out first but they were both set down in front of me at the same time. No worries as I had some time to kill before my flight.Not the actual bowl of pho…
The summer rolls were lovely, fresh and full of soft herbs with a nice flavour from the pickled mango (which is a first for me). The dips were standard, sweet chilli and a slightly puzzling hoisin sauce (didn’t feel very Vietnamese to me).
Then onto the Pho. I was a little worried about the lack of inciting smells steaming from the bowl and when I took a spoonful of the broth I could taste why. The broth was very light and had very little depth in the flavour. I expected to be able to taste the star anise and touch of cinnamon I have come to desire. Alongside was a plate of accompaniments. Including fish sauce, more hoisin sauce and some crushed nuts (I think) and chilli if I wanted to add. I don’t react well to fresh chilli so I left that out and added all the fish sauce and a little of the hoisin. It still didn’t lift the broth. I ended up eating some of the noodles and the beef, which was amazingly tender but again lacked seasoning as it languished in the watery broth.
I left my other summer roll till last so at least my last mouthful would be pleasurable. Then I went to pay.
To my horror I had maxed out my credit card and it was declined. I had no cash bar some Singapore dollars so tried my debit card. Which was when it happened! I forgot my pin number. Having not used the card for nearly three weeks the number had vanished most likely replaced by the numerous images of beaches and rainforest my brain was now storing. The waiter looked at me as if I could magic the pin back into my mind.
I was starting to freak out. Friends who I had spent the day with were now back in Sydney and I was alone in the city. He suggested I came back the next day to pay but since I was flying out in a matter of hours that was not possible. Then he suggested trying an ATM which I laughed rather hysterically at as since I couldn’t remember my pin how would I get money out? In the end he went to speak to his manager who I am thankful to.
The waiter came back with a huge smile on his face. “As it is St Patrick’s Day and your last day in Australia, we’d like to give you a gift. Your bill is on us…Happy St Patrick’s Day!”. It was $17 which is about £10 so not a huge amount but still the gesture and way that they presented the solution made me very happy indeed. It also reinforced just how friendly and kind most of the people I met on my travels were and ended my vacation on a good note and not with me washing dishes or cleaning the floors.
Has anyone ever surprised you with a gift or gesture that you were not expecting?