One man knew exactly what he wanted to spend his hard-earned money on.

People go through all kinds of things in life, some that they talk about and some that they don’t. The truth is, we don’t always know what’s going on behind closed doors, or what kind of circumstances led to a person’s current position.

What we do know is that everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, no matter their background or situation. That’s why this story of a “homeless” man insisting on paying for his own meal at a fancy restaurant has reached so many people.

A Lunchtime Request

man eating alone at a restaurant

One day in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, a man who appeared homeless came up to the balcony of a high-end restaurant named Benvindo. In English, “benvindo” translates to “welcome.” The name seems on brand, because when this man showed them a $50 bill and asked the waiters for a meal, they sat him down.

An average meal at this restaurant goes for about $100, but the servers insisted that this man’s meal was on the house. He declined and said he wanted to pay for it with his sweat, as per a local publication.

The man chose the Executive Lunch, which came with a starter, a main course, and a dessert. He also ordered some wine. The server brought him a bottle, but he didn’t finish the drink and asked for a couple of sodas instead. He also skipped dessert.

The whole time, the staff treated him just as they would any other client.

A Kind Gesture

When the bill came, it totaled more than $120. However, the restaurant’s owners insisted to the server that this man should use his money for something else. When the server tried to comp the meal, however, the man once again insisted that he pay for his food.

After some back-and-forth, the server charged the man $10. He lied and said it was a promo because initially, the man wouldn’t take the $40 change. Meanwhile, some patrons nearby snapped some photos of the man. Then, they shared the exchange on social media.

“We just watched a great example of compassion and synergy,” the person wrote, as per the local publication. “The ease of this guy made me think about the many paths we choose in life trying to be happy… and many times, it’s in the simplest and most truthful and unexpected way that is closer and more accessible than we realize.”

The post went viral and many online came to the conclusion that this man was homeless. They cited how he collects cans and cardboard to make money. However, his true identity remains unknown.

“It was an act that we did not for publicity; we were not expecting anything like that,” the server, Felipe Fontes, added. “He was polite, he insisted on paying the bill.”

A Universal Approach

One reason this story touched so many people is that it exemplifies the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect, no matter what preconceived notions we may have about them.

Whether this man was homeless or not, it was apparent that this meal was a special occasion for him and something that he wanted to feel like he earned. So the servers and owners did everything they could to make him feel valued and respected.

We don’t all have the same privileges, upbringings, or opportunities in life. But by remembering to treat everyone with kindness and like an equal, we add infinite value to all of our lives.