The Postscript

A borrowed plate

Picture of Carrie Classon

Carrie Classon

February 28, 2024

My husband, Peter, and I were surprised that two plates were missing.

We stay in our little apartment in Mexico and, while we’re gone, all our dishes and glasses remain in the cupboards. We pack away most of our spices, but we leave the vegetable steamer and the pressure cooker and all the art on the walls. We leave it all in the apartment which, we assume, is rented out to other people while we are gone, although it is hard to know for sure because everything is always right where we left it. But this time, two plates were missing. And I knew where they were.

Shortly before we left last year, a few weeks before Christmas, our wonderful landlord Jorge was chatting well into the evening with a woman about his age at a table in the courtyard. The woman looked a lot like him, and the way they were talking and laughing together led me to believe this was probably one of Jorge’s 12 siblings.

“Would you like a piece of cake?” I asked them on the way to my apartment. I had just bought a cake, a chocolate one. (If it sounds as if I do nothing but eat cake and donuts and apple empanadas in Mexico, that would not be far from the truth.)

“Oh, no!” Jorge said, smiling. “I don’t need any cake.” But I could tell he wanted some.

“Oh, yes!” the woman, who was probably his sister, said. “I would love a piece of cake!”

So I brought two pieces of cake down on two small hand-painted plates I had bought at the market. A few days later, we returned to the U.S. for Christmas, and when we came back this winter, the two little plates were still missing.

I should note that this did not bother me at all. We still had two small plates, and Peter thought those plates were too small for cake anyway. He bought four more that were just as pretty and a little bigger, and that was the last I thought about our plates. Until last night.

Last night, Jorge knocked on our apartment door.

We are on the third story and Jorge is usually behind the front desk, or supervising the small kitchen downstairs, or spending a night in the little apartment on the ground floor, waiting for late arriving guests. But there he was at our door, holding our two plates.

“We have a tradition in Mexico,” he told us, in English. “When you are given a plate with food, you must return it with a gift. This is what we do with our family and our friends.”

On the plates were what appeared to be two enormous biscuits.

“These are… I’m not sure what the word is in English,” he confessed. “But they are the best.”

Jorge handed us the two plates. We thanked him, and he left. Then we immediately put honey on the large, tasty whole wheat biscuits and ate them up. Jorge was right. They were the best ever.

As I washed up our two missing plates, I thought what a wonderful idea it was to return a borrowed plate with a gift. And I thought of what an honor it was to be considered Jorge’s friend.

And I decided I needed to loan out more plates in the future – plates filled with whatever I have to offer, whatever I can give –knowing that, one way or another, the borrowed plate will be returned in some fashion, filled with something better than I could ever imagine.

Till next time,


Carrie Classon

is a nationally syndicated columnist, author, and performer. She champions the idea that it is never too late to reinvent oneself in unexpected and fulfilling ways. Learn more about Carrie and her memoir, “Blue Yarn,” at