He smiled appreciatively and said in halting English, "Tank you."
R, the owner and master chef of a small Lebanese restaurant, was busy every minute. He personally serviced the patrons, either at self-selected tables or at the counter. He also prepared the food and served it proudly. A blond-wood balalaika was positioned next to the cash register for ambience. R's mother helped out for the dinner service nightly when the place got busier.
R makes the best gyros I've ever tasted. The wrap is held together with wax paper so that the warm pita, hot meat and cold lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce combine for Mediterranean perfection.
As R bustled around the dining room, I got the chance to tell him personally how delicious his food was. Actually, this was the second time I got to compliment. The first was when he brought the food and I told him how good it looked. He smiled a shy smile and said softly, "Tank You."
I'm no aficionado about Mediterranean cuisine, but I do love a gyro. A Greek friend taught me how to pronounce it: say yee-ro, not jai-ro. So I always say yee-ro, and once in a while a server will raise an eyebrow that I know how to order it correctly.
Back to R. He's a young man in his 30s, I'm guessing, and loaded with energy and pride. His mother smiles as I tell him his food was the best. He can hardly believe the complement. R clears my empty plate, smiles broadly, and simply says, "Tank You."
That reminds me: 5-Q plus 5-Q makes 10-Q.
[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati Ohio.]