My schedule is changing, so I won't be free to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. It's not a special place, just a chain restaurant that serves guy food. But I've been served by the same waitress there for almost ten years.
Today I went by for lunch mostly to say goodbye to her.
Now, I've been a bartender, and like most people who have been in food service, I tip well. And, when I could easily get two-dollar bills from my bank, I used to tip with them. It was just a way to be remembered. "That's the guy who tips in deuces: he's a good tipper, let me take care of him."
(My bank has changed owners twice, and the new bank doesn't carry twos anymore, not even back in the vault.)
That waitress told me a touching story about her late son. He died a few years ago at the age of 23 - a car accident I think, although I didn't want to pry. She'd already told me that she gave my two-dollar bill tips to him.
Today she said that she was going through his things, and found a big atlas. She opened it, and discovered every two-dollar bill I'd given her inside the atlas! Page after page with four two-dollar bills, pressed like flowers.
Understand - I'd never met her son. I barely know this waitress. We talked a little each time I came by. I don't even know her last name.
It was touching, nonetheless.
But I'm a writer. And we're ghouls, using the pain of others in our stories.
So here's my question: would it be churlish to use that story in a work of fiction?