Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"If you were arrested for kindness, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"--unknown

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in feeling creates love."--Lao Tzu

As I bulldoze through the pain and minutae of each working day, positive guest interaction is never far from my mind. I cheerfully check on the meals of people who I wouldn't piss on to extinguish were they aflame, and regularly engage in rapt conversations with individuals [and groups, unfortunately] so personally reprehensible, the very fact that I breathe the same air as they should be an affront to me.

The rare chance to truly welcome and look after a table, not because it is what I get paid to do but because it is what I want to do, is the sweetest of treats.

First time diners...anonymous guests, almost assuredly out of their element in our restaurant or in any steakhouse that doesn't offer a bloomin' onion or forced line-dancing. Eight elderly black ladies out to celebrate a birthday, dressed alike right down to the custom-made sequined red hats produced just for the dinner. First contact was over the phone, as the ring-leader called for enroute directions. The joy in this woman's voice literally leapt from the phone. They were on their way to my famous restaurant and they were a little late and a little lost but please, please don't give away the table because they were coming, "like Moses to the Promised Land". I was beaming from ear to ear as I told her that their table would be waiting for them whenever they arrived, and that they were going to do a good deal better than Moses, who never got past the doorway--they were coming to dinner and they were going to have the time of their lives.

The ladies upon arrival were everything I had expected them to be, and their good spirits were contagious. Their party was shown to a great table with one of my best servers--a young lady who fell in love with them even before I could give her my pep talk about not pre-judging our guests. Throughout the course of their dinner guests stopped by to ask after their meals and comment on their festive outfits with not even the tiniest bit of sarcasm or mean intent.

At the end of the meal the server was all smiles, even though the ladies' small check had brought her less than half the income she would have seen from a "normal" table of 8. On the way out I collected a kiss on the cheek and hug from each and every dear lady as thanks for their complementary birthday cake--warm gestures that filled my heart more than a pocket of benjamins ever has.

As icing, the server returned to help clear the table and found a hidden fifty-dollar bill with a post-it attached reading, "my oldest baby worked his way through college waiting tables...God Bless".

My days and nights are hard and often thankless, but those ladies will help lift my spirits for a long time indeed.


Blogger bittersweet me said...


2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love this story. Just found your site, I'm reading the archives. I run a restaurant and I'm so fond of situations that break sterotypical restaurant situations.

2:34 AM  

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