READER REPORT:

Shouting a family in need

SHAUN MAHUTA
Last updated 05:00 24/02/2014

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A few years back in Wellington, I was working part time and studying full time at Victoria University. I was struggling to pay rent, and living off baked beans, toast and Weet-bix.

Now and again my older sister would take me out for dinner, all expenses paid by her. She always managed to pick just the right time when I was really in need.

Shouting a friend or having a friend pay at a restaurant now is not a big deal, so to understand why this meant so much to me back then, some back story is needed.

We come from a solo parent family in a small town in the Waikato, and money was always tight. At the time a reasonable, respected restaurant in Wellington was very flash and would be for very special occasions only. I would have only been to such places a handful of times in my life back then.

My sister had only just landed a graduate entry-level job so by no means was she rolling in it. I was living hand to mouth, so to have my sister forking out a meal for a starving 19-year-old will always be special to me.

Anyway, this act of kindness isn't about me.

On one of these meals out we noticed a family and three kids having a meal. There was a homemade cake so it must have been a special occasion.

The family wasn't a well off, those tell-tale signs of the clothes slightly too small or too big for the kids, the parents mentally summing up the cost of the meal when one of the kids asked for an extra Coke. This instantly reminded me and my sister of those special occasions as kids when we would get the chance to go out.

While halfway through my curly fries, my sister said we had to leave straight away. Not happy to leave food behind but not willing to upset the bill-payer, we left.

What I hadn't noticed was that the parents from the family before had their card declined while paying for the meal. The mum was in tears and the father was very pale saying "we saved, we budgeted there should be enough".

My sister walked up and said she would pay. She swiped her card, hugged the mum told her she 'knew'.

We left with the kids at the table still having fun and parents at the counter still in shock.

So proud of you, big sis.


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