I know you don't need convincing, but this story in the Boston Herald about diners whose meal was interrupted by the Boston Marathon bombing and left without paying their bill, now making good on their tab, is inspirational and a sign that all is not yet lost in America.
"They all said, 'Listen, we were there, having a good time, and we want to pay our tab,'" said Tony Castagnozzi, owner of the Rattlesnake Bar, who said he has received a flood of calls since the April 15 terror attack. "I was speechless. ... You see there are so many good people out there. It makes you feel good."
Castagnozzi, who has owned the Boylston Street bar for 23 years, said his customers were forced to leave behind more than $3,000 in unpaid tabs when cops evacuated them after the bombings. Since then, he's received nearly a dozen letters and calls from customers who've made good on their bills. In all, Castagnozzi estimates the bar has recouped about $1,200.
t's the right thing to do, isn't it? At least in my mind it is," said David Christmas, an Acton runner who has run the marathon 16 times. He was having beers with friends and family when the bombs went off. He sent in $50 to cover his $35 bar tab and a tip.
A handful of good-hearted customers evacuated from the Charlesmark Hotel also have since settled up their tabs, including a liquor company that was sponsoring a marathon party,
according to operating partner Mark Hagopian -- though the hotel lost all record of running tabs when the FBI seized abandoned credit cards, and the hotel's system zeroed itself out.
"When they took them, they also took all of the cellphones, all of the cameras and everything that was lying around," Hagopian said. "The FBI actually called all the numbers on the backs of the credit cards and canceled them."
Castagnozzi said all the stand-up diners have insisted on adding tips for the waitresses, who were left not only emotionally scarred from the attack, but also without one of their biggest paydays of the year.
"They didn't expect anything," Castagnozzi said of his wait staff. "Marathon day is our busiest day of the year. And they work hard. So they were pleasantly surprised."
Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president of the Back Bay Association, added: "I just think it further demonstrates how the community came together to support businesses and the victims of this incident. It just further demonstrates what a great city we live in."
I've never heard the like before. Of course, situations like this don't happen very often but the effort to make good on what you owe despite the circumstances reminds us that we are all part of a larger community and that we are dependent on one another in ways that we don't understand until tragedy strikes. Reaching outside of yourself to understand how your actions impact your neighbor, your community, or your country is the essence of America and is one more indication of our exceptional nature.
I would hope publicizing this story leads to other diners caught in a similar situation picking up the phone and paying the largely small businessmen and their employees what they owe.