The chime at the door lightly rang as the old man entered in.
He strode on across the floor, and took a seat amidst the din.
He sat alone at the table there. The other diners did not know
Who this silent stranger was, so conversation began to flow.
“How’s your son?”, they asked, and, “What’s happening in your life?”
“What are you doing now?”, and, “I haven’t seen your wife.”
Then, in came a raucous crew full of vinegar and vim.
They spied the old man sitting there, and thought to have fun with him.
They thought themselves invincible in the power of their youth.
The idea of respect and manners had not touched them with its truth.
They bounced up to the table, and with a wicked grin,
The largest of their number sat down across from him.
“Make way old man! Give way! There’s more of us than you.
Even though you’ve barely touched your food, I can tell you’re through.
So saying, he reached right across to take the old man’s plate,
But that’s when things took a twist in the young giant’s fate.
The old man hardly moved at all as he grabbed his taunter’s arm.
“Son you don’t want to do that. I don’t want to cause you harm.”
He smiled as he continued, and his grip began to increase.
“You see I’m really quite hungry, and not finished in the least.
The youth was now confused, and in not a little pain.
He tried to retrieve his arm, but his efforts were in vain.
The old man’s sinews and muscles stood out in broad relief.
Hardened by years of farming chores, he said, “I’ll be brief.
Now son, you thought to bully me, a man unknown to you.”
He tightened up his grip once more as he took a moment to chew.
“You hadn’t thought what I could do If I took a mind to react.
You chose to try and intimidate, rather than try another tact.”
By now the lad wasn’t sure if he’d ever use his arm again.
He was sliding from seat to knees, breathless in his pain.
The old man continued eating ‘til his plate was wiped quite clean,
Then he let loose the boy, and gave him a look both bright and keen.
“I want to thank you son for keeping me company while I ate.
Now, I better be on my way, my wife hates it when I’m late.
From now on boy I expect that you’ll say, ‘Yes ma’am’, and ‘Yes sir’.
That you’ll give respect to those around, and your friends will all concur.
The next man you try to hassle may not be as nice as me.”
Then reaching down with that mighty hand, he lifted the boy off his knee.
He stood him up, and brushed him off, and chucked him lightly under the chin.
“Now be a good boy, or I’ll be back.”, then he spun away with a grin.
He paid his bill, and thanked the cook for the wonderful meal he’d had,
Then turned once more before he left saying, “Boy, don’t you feel bad.
There are men in this world of ours who’ve done just like you’ve done
Without a thought for the other man, or the battles that HE’S won.
Respect is earned when respect is given. From good manners we reap the same.
You can hold your head up high, and folks will praise your name.
A simple ‘Thank you’, and a ‘Please’ can go a long, long ways.
It might just save your life, and lengthen out your days.”
Then the old man turned and left. The boys just stood and stared.
Not one of them said a word. None of them even dared.
So learn this lesson in your youth. Be kind to those around.
For you never know who you’ll meet, when you try to put somebody down.