The Lovers’ Complimentary Meal: An Ethics Tale

The couple

The couple

On his blog, Virgin Airlines tycoon Richard Branson told a story, reputedly true, that show vividly how kindness and ethical conduct can have far-reaching consequences.

Three years ago, a young couple was dining  in a Boston restaurant about . Their affection for each other was obvious, and it attracted the attention of a friend of Branson’s named Pankaj Shah. He was eating at a nearby table, and is apparently a lovable eccentric who likes to anonymously pay for the meals of strangers when he is dining out. He had asked the restaurant staff that night to let him pay the bill for “the couple who looked most in love.”

It was done. The couple learned that a mysterious benefactor had paid for their romantic rendezvous, and Shah received his usual pleasure from the random act of kindness.

Three years later, Pankaj Shah returned to have dinner at the same establishment.  The manager recognized and approached him, and said that he night be interested to learn that the same couple he had treated  three years before were also in the restaurant. Not only that: the manager revealed that
the “dude just got down on one knee and proposed.” He asked the aspiring groom why they he had chosen his restaurant for this life-changing ritual, and was told  that three years ago, at the same table, some stranger had paid for their meal right out of the blue. The gesture made the couple ponder on the importance of kindness, selflessness and love, and had talked about the incident many times since. He said both he and his girlfriend had been inspired to be better, more caring, ethical people as a result, and he felt that the place where this epiphanal event occurred would be the perfect place to propose.

The manager introduced them to Shah, who attended their wedding.

It seems that the couple has preferred to stay anonymous, and hell, I don’t know if the story is really true. That couple in the photo on Branson’s blog may be friends of Manti Te’o, if you get my meaning.

But I hope it is true. It should be.

It could be.

And its lesson is true, regardless.


Pointer and Source: Cafe Mom

Facts and Graphic: Richard Branson

Facts: Richard Branson

3 thoughts on “The Lovers’ Complimentary Meal: An Ethics Tale

  1. The last three lines of this post nicely encapsulate the reason I prefer to read well written novels (literature I suppose) rather than non-fiction. Because as I will tell anyone who will listen to me, at it’s core, good fiction is truer than anything based on a true story. Even those that will listen don’t usually agree with me though.

  2. My husband and I have done this on occasion, always anonymously. It’s always charming to see the reaction — and the idea that it could have been anyone in the dining room, or perhaps a friend or relative through some pre-arrangement, enlarges the circle of gratitude and warmth.

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