Amid media reports of celebrities, political figures and restaurants receiving threatening letters containing meal worms, the owner of Greater Tainan’s Shen-mao Wan Ko (森茂碗粿) was pleasantly surprised last week when he received a letter from a customer who had forgotten to pay for his meal 17 years ago.
Singer Jam Hsiao (蕭敬騰), restaurant chain Din Tai Fung and Democratic Progressive Party Taipei mayoral hopeful Wellington Koo (顧立雄) received letters late last month that came with a bag of live mealworms and joss paper.
However, Su Wen-yen (蘇文彥), owner of the bowl rice cake shop, received a letter of remorse, with cash enclosed.
In the letter, dated Tuesday last week, the sender, surnamed Ho (何), said that he wished to “confess” and that he did not want to “leave the world burdened by sin.”
The letter included Ho’s name, address and phone number, as well as two NT$100 bills.
Su said he was surprised by the opening lines of the letter, and startled when he saw the words “leave the world burdened by sin.”
“I called him, thinking he might not be thinking straight,” Su said.
Su learned from Ho that he visited the store when he was studying at the National University of Tainan Affiliated Primary School 17 years ago.
Ho had been bothered by his conscience for not paying the NT$25 bill 17 years ago, Su said.
Su said he believed Ho was a kind person, so he donated the money to Charity in Person, a philanthropic organization, in the hope that it could be put to good use.
“After all, a serving of bowl rice cake still only costs NT$30 today. The sum of NT$200 is just too much,” Su said.
Su said it was not unusual for people to order and discover afterward that they had forgotten to bring money with them, and he always tells them that it was OK whether he knew them personally or not.
Most would return the money within a few days, Su said, although some did not.