"Pardon me, but my car has broken down around the block. No one is answering their doors tonight. Could I be so bold as to ask to stay inside and borrow your phone to call a towing agency?"
Normally, I would ask for the person to stay on the stoop and hand the phone to him, but it was not a night for leaving someone out in the cold. He didn't seem drunk, nor was he trying to sell me anything.
"Please. Come in. My name is Chad, and these are my son's Connor and Ryan." Peter was jumping all over the man, of course. The little Boston simply can't contain his excitement.
"Oh, ho, little one." The name had a pleasant smile and a crackly chuckle. He reached down to pat the incorrigible dog. I tossed him the wireless phone and invited him to make himself comfortable.
"Pardon me, but I've got supper to make. Connor, Ryan. Tubby time." I figured having the boys in the bathroom and not in the stranger's way was a good move. The boys hopped to, happy to have time in the bubble tub. Meghan was off at Katie's for the night, her Wednesday routine. I'd definitely have to tell her about our visitor when she got home.
Time to turn back to dinner, or rather deciding what to make with the meager pantry. I had hamburger, bread, some ketchup and and onions. I needed something that was quick and delicious to a 5 year old and toddler.
"Could I be of some assistance?" The old man still wore his coat with its many assorted, draped bags and sacks. "I believe this should work nicely." He handed me a 3x5" recipe card with the following inscription:
Bigbee's Sloppy Joes
1 lb ground beef (93/7)
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 tsp Worchteshire sauce
1/4 tsp ground mustard seed
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
salt and pepper
Brown the beef and drain. Saute the onions in a little vegetable oil. Mix the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, and chile powder. Return the beef to the skillet and add stock and ketchup mixture. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Serve on toasted bread or hamburger buns.
Bigbee? Now, where have I heard that name before? The old man smiled and nodded. "Thanks for letting me borrow your phone. The wrecker will be here shortly. I'd best be at the car when it arrives."
I escorted the old man out the front door and locked it behind him, shook my head, and prepared dinner. The boys ate with gusto, leaving not a morsel behind. It didn't hurt serving the sloppy joes with tater tots. Ever since that night, I've wanted to properly thank the man for such a kind gift, but I never heard from him again.