I came into your establishment recently with a few friends. We try to get together as often as we can, but life conspires to keep us apart more than we would like. So when you came to our table, I was full of hope and joy and excitement. I was ready to joke and be silly. I wanted to try something new. I admit I may have overwhelmed you with my exuberance. You didn’t smile. You didn’t introduce yourself. You didn’t welcome me or my friends.
Now, when I’m pumped up, it takes quite a bit to deflate me. I pressed on. I asked for your opinion and recommendations. I tried with increasing intensity to engage you and draw you into our fun. You remained distant.
Having been a server in a restaurant, I probably expect more of you than most. On the other hand, I am also one that has walked in your shoes a bit. I know this is probably not your dream job. This is probably a stepping stone to something more for you. This may be the third double you’ve worked in as many days. Your rent may be coming due and your car payment may be late. Perhaps you’ve been having a tough time figuring out what’s next for you or perhaps you’ve got it figured out and you’re just tired of the routine that even the best of jobs can sometimes slip into.
Like I said, I’ve been in a similar place and I know some of what it is to be a server. So, I didn’t let your barely polite attitude crush my joy. If anything, I redoubled my efforts to look beyond your tone and body language. I asked your name and about your life.
I sensed a thawing. You shared some real and personal bits of who you are. The whole night took on a different feel.
You see, here’s the thing. When I came in tonight, I was looking for an experience. I wanted to escape. I wanted a night of frivolity and laughter and shenanigans. Yours was a crucial role in helping shape the experience I sought.
So when you seemed a bit impatient with me, I tried to invite you play along. When you were reluctant to engage me, I tried harder. Had you continued to remain cold and distant, the best food and drink in the world would not have been enough to salvage the evening. Even the wonderful company of my very good friends would not have been enough to allow me to come away with the deep satisfaction I sought.
So thank you for allowing yourself to take a small step toward me. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself. Thank you for a very enjoyable night out on the town. Most of all, thank you for causing me to reflect on how I contribute or detract from the experiences of those around me.
I will remember my time in your restaurant as I approach the couple who have finally got up the courage to get in their car, drive into the paring lot, navigate the traffic, slip through the crowd and find a place in the church service. They are looking for an experience. I can add to or detract from the experience.
I will remember the way you didn’t look at me, the way you didn’t want to be bothered by me, the way you wanted to limit your interaction with me. More accurately I will remember how I felt when you did those things. I will remember because when I seem distracted or put out by someone looking to connect, I leave them feeling like you initially left me feeling, like an obstacle a nuisance, a bother.
I will also remember how good it felt to have you enter into our fun. I hope it doesn’t take as much effort on the part of our guests to draw me out or that I would require such an effort in the first place.
Finally, thank you for serving me and helping me see what serving is really all about, helping others experience life.
Life is better together,