Once I had summer holiday work as a live-in waitress in Perisher Valley, a winter ski resort. At that time an Australian summer holiday meant the beach, so the guests here were all European migrants sensibly seeking the cool. I had never before come across women who were both mature and pampered.
We wore dirndls with eidelweiss (!) and long socks; we were well paid, well fed, and, apart from serving three meals a day, had plenty of leisure time. The guests were exquisitely courteous, and undemanding - until She arrived. At one of "my" tables.
Beautifully coiffed and Elizabeth-Ardened though she was, I could not estimate her age, sensing that she was not as old as her facial lines suggested.
Guests had a choice of 3 entrees, main courses and puddings. From the start she wanted more. Her eyes would skim around others' selections, and she would whisper: "Can I have some xxxx also? And a little....xxxx? Perhaps some xxxx? And xxxx?" This gave her some very odd combinations, but she ate every crumb.
I was sanctimoniously appalled by her greed.
Instead of adopting the numerous small ways a waiter can undetectably disadvantage a customer, I went to the other extreme: no matter what she ordered, I suggested more. I offered her cutlets to go with her roast beef. Apple pie to go with her souffle. They were often accepted.
I was of course ridiculing her.
When she left she sought me out. She tipped me generously, and thanked me lavishly.
She had, she said, been in a Siberian gulag for many years. The cold? You get used to that, she shrugged. But, the hunger: you never recover from that.
I still feel a little ashamed.