A few weeks ago I had an interesting encounter with a young waitress. Won’t name the restaurant, because that’s irrelevant. I hesitated about writing this blog, but for some reason the encounter keeps sticking out in my mind. So here we go!
As I get closer to old age, I am realizing that what used to be important me is no longer the same as when I was in my twenties or thirties. I recall when I would go off on a waiter/waitress if the service was poor. But nowadays it is more about a lesson to be taught rather than getting my way. One day I decided that I had spent the majority of my allowed energy on getting things done in the house/office, and I did not feel like preparing a meal. Plus, I had a taste for a nice salad. So I only knew one place that would fit the bill and would not be disappointing in taste. As I sat at the restaurant with my books and magazines, the waitress came and welcomed me and took my order. Since I knew exactly what I wanted she only had to make one trip. Shortly thereafter, my drink came and later my salad. As I ate my salad, read my material and observed the people around me, I noticed that she never came back to my table to see if I was happy with my salad or needed anything else. However, she spent a lot of time at the table next to me, which had three adults and a baby. She constantly made sure that they were happy with their order, made small talk and played with the baby, but never looked over at me once, or stopped to ask if I was okay. She only returned to my table to bring my food, and once to ask if I needed anything else. I watched this scenario play out for more than an hour as I continually got frustrated. I did eventually ask her to get me more napkins, because the one I had was obviously worn out. She never noticed! Her final trip to my table was to bring my check.
I spent two hours in this restaurant. As I sat there, I decided that I was going to report her to the manager, and also was not going to leave her a tip. Just before I prepared to leave, I noticed that she was working on the other side of the restaurant in addition to serving my side. That’s when I had a change of heart. As she approached my table, I decided to talk to her rather than report her to the manager. I simply explained my feelings to her. I shared with her that I had worked in that particular restaurant and know the protocol for service. I also told her what my intentions were before she came over to me, but let her know that I decided against reporting her. I indicated that I wanted this to be a learning process for her rather than a reprimand. I also indicated that I did not plan to give a tip, but also had a change of heart about that. When it was all said and done, she apologized and promised to do better and asked me to please come again and ask for her so she could prove that the lesson was learned. We hugged and I was on my way. This encounter has meant so much to me and I hope that it meant as much to her. I had no idea how I had grown. Sometimes it only takes one person to make a difference!