Bud starts crying at the restaurant out of a sense of relief and release. After all the years of hardship and sorrow since his mother died four years earlier, he has finally reached his destination. Even though Herman E. Calloway has not acknowledged him, and actually seems none too pleased that he is there, Bud has a feeling that he has come to the place where he belongs. He thinks,
"All of a sudden I knew that of all the places in the world that I'd ever been in this was the one. That of all the people I'd ever met these were the ones. This is where I was supposed to be (Chapter 14).
Bud has traveled all the way from Flint to Grand Rapids, Michigan to find the man he believes is his father. He is only ten years old, and has come all that way alone; and because he has had to be strong, he has stifled his emotions, and noticed that his "eyes don't cry no more." When he meets Calloway's band, the friendliness and concern with which the members treat him makes him feel that he can let down his guard, and the compassion of Miss Thomas, the lead singer, no doubt reminds him of his own mother's tenderness. In addition, he has been treated to a full meal at a restaurant for the first time in his life; his hunger has been satisfied, and the experience fills him with an amazement which is overwhelming. Even though nothing has been settled as to his future, Bud knows that, for a few days at least, he is safe, and others will take care of him. The relief he feels sets off a torrent of long-suppressed emotions, and without even realizing it, he begins to cry, and is unable to stop.