Hitting the Jackpot

We walked into the Applegate’s Landing restaurant on 31st and Harvard to celebrate my 9th birthday. According to the internet, “Applegate’s Landing was a Pizza-Hut spin-off restaurant in the ’70s and ’80s. This popular eatery featured pasta, pizza and a salad bar set up in the bed of an old antique truck.” My family sauntered into the restaurant as I hopped and skipped and described to my Dad all that I was going to order for my birthday dinner. As we waited for a table, I ran up to the phone booth and pushed the coin return, always on a quest to see if I could find some loose change. Nothing. Then I noticed the cigarette machine and reached over to pull the lever to see what would happen. My jaw dropped and my eyes widened as I watched coin after coin fall into the dispenser. Every coin in that machine fell into the coin return and I was giddy with laughter and couldn’t belief my luck. Happy Birthday to me!! My family was laughing right along with me as I started grabbing the coins. My mom, still smiling, said, “Sweetie, you really can’t keep all of that money.” I stared at her, holding my treasure tight, my heart still racing from the jackpot excitement. “Mom! Whyyyyyyy???”

Without hesitation she said, “It’s not yours.”

We went back and forth for awhile until I finally trudged to the cash register and handed my treasure to the restaurant manager. The whole event was the main topic of discussion that night at dinner. Mom second guessed herself a little when she suspected that the staff was splitting my windfall in the back, but finally explained that they were responsible for what they did with the money, just like we were.

I can’t find a picture of Applegate’s landing on the internet. I have no recollection of the food I ate that night and I really can’t even remember the old antique truck salad bar. But I do remember what my mom taught me that night about honesty, integrity, and character.  On day one, I mentioned that I believed hope and gratitude walk hand in hand. I am thankful for this memory, grateful for the little moments that have shaped me in ways I probably never imagined. What positive memories do you remember that shaped you the most?