Rosie and Maggie

“Joe, I’m taking my break now. Maggie’s here.”
Rosie is a waitress at Joe’s Diner; Maggie
is her regular “customer”. Over a year
ago Maggie had made another waitress angry.

After eating her meal, she discovered she could not pay.
The scene was turning ugly until Rosie stepped in,
offering payment. Maggie returned the next day,
“Sorry about not having money yesterday, friend.

I don’t usually carry money. I don’t eat out much.”
Rosie sized her up – in her eighties, clean but wearing
old, well-worn clothes. Not a “bag lady”, homeless or such,
probably poor, living nearby, lonely, having no one caring.

Rosie refused to take her money. Since lunch hour rush
was over, Rosie insisted on buying lunch. Thus began
a daily routine. They would eat, talk and laugh, crush
out one cigarette after another. “Quit while you still can,
Rosie”, Maggie would always say. “It’s too late for me.
I smoke since my husband and I had a tobacco shop, you see.”

Rosie never could get much from Maggie concerning
her personal life. She and her husband had once owned
a neighborhood shop; he had died decades back, leaving
her alone since her family never visited, never phoned.

Meanwhile, Maggie knew ‘most everything about the life
Rosie led – her two ex-husbands, three young kids,
the abusive boyfriend, his wanting her to become his wife,
even how she dreamed of college someday, Heaven forbid!

Today as they sat and ate, Maggie seemed weaker
than normal. “You’d better stop by the Free Clinic, dear.
I’m getting off tomorrow and taking you before you get sicker.”
Next day, Maggie failing to show, “I made Maggie mad, I fear.”

Several weeks pass with no Maggie. Then a well-dressed man
arrives with notice for Rosie to please attend the reading
of the will of the late Mrs. Margaret Smythe Winterstan.
At the appointed place, Rosie sees this family’s breeding.

Feeling like a duck among swans, she tries going unnoticed.
“They wear Rolexs, Gucci bags, expensive clothes, with snotty
attitudes to match. Why I’m here I haven’t got the remotest
clue.” “Before we begin, would anyone care for coffee or tea?

We are here to dispose of the estate of one Margaret
Symthe Winterstan. Margaret wanted you all to know
this will is iron-clad, unchallengeable despite your regrets.”
The lawyer proceeded to read a list of a couple of dozen or so
relatives, leaving each $1,000, amidst growing gasps and groans.
“You might never have neglected me if this result you’d known.”

“To Rosie, for all the meals you bought I leave this ‘tip’
of fifty thousand dollars…For your generosity, kindness,
and friendship toward me daily with never so much as one skip,
I bequeath sixty million dollars.” Rosie’s reaction…blackness.

“You fainted, but you’ll be okay.” “You’ve got to be joking!
I thought Maggie was poor, living off selling her tobacco shop.”
“That shop was the first…of a chain of 92 – a fortune from smoking.
I’m instructed to say ‘Maggie hopes your kindness to others never stops’”.

Harry Edward Gilleland      05.23.02