24 Jun A Pizza-Themed Lesson on Humanity, from Naples, Italy
I’m writing from Naples, the ancient city of southern Italy known for its rough edges, world-class pizza, and joyful embrace of life. I can attest to such qualities.
Last night I learned a valuable lesson about people. About community. About myself.
I had one rule in Naples, and that was not to eat at the same pizza spot twice. After two days, I’ve broken my only rule.
I stood outside of a famous restaurant I hadn’t yet been, waiting for my name to be called. The couple before me went. Then the one after. Then after.
The man running the show and calling names, the same one whose face they displayed in the award-winning newspaper ad on the front door, wasn’t the poster boy of warmth and a welcoming demeanor.
I don’t know if he passed over me, and at this point, I didn’t really care. I was going back next door where I was graciously welcomed the previous night, damn it!
Screw our rules.
My server from the night before saw me from across the restaurant and sent a wink. I knew I made the right call.
With no wait, he set me up outside.
You could feel the energy and how it differed from the other pizzeria. It was less crowded, yet people seemed happier.
The staff, which I learned was a family, regularly waved, smiled, and chatted with neighbors and those passing by, clearly knowing and caring for the community.
As I’m eating, an older gentleman steps out of the restaurant with his family, looks down at this young and solitary student of life with a big smile, and shares a slow, bon appétit.
He didn’t know how he made my night.
Perhaps the famous restaurant had better pizza. Who knows.
But people are people, and we’re all, always, going through something within the confines of these complex souls — perhaps something large and seemingly insurmountable; perhaps something small, and rather irrelevant.
But it pays to care. You never know whose life you’ll save, make, or change from showing a bit of humanity.
Perhaps I’d remember a world-class pizza — but it’s cheese, dough and sauce.
What I’ll remember is being treated well, with kindness and genuine sincerity.
What do you learn from being alone? What do you learn from being alive?
How to be human. How to open up your heart. How to care for others. How to continue on, dear friends.