Last week I went out for dinner. Unfortunately, my appetizer didn’t come out until after I had finished eating the main course. The waitress apologized a couple of times for the delay and I knew it wasn’t her fault, so I just sat and talked with my wife as we waited. Even though I was hungry, I was not starving and it was not the end of the world, so I simply accepted the apologies and went on with my evening.
Lately I’ve found that these type of things don’t bother me as much as they might have at one point in time, and honestly, I wouldn’t have thought any more of it. However, what the waitress said as she handed me the bill before we left really bothered me:
She thanked me with some emotion for not ripping her up one side and down the other because the kitchen forgot to cook my food. She said many people would have been quite angry at her for it. She took off the appetizer and gave me a discount.
She was not a new waitress and I’ve eaten there a few times before where she served me dinner, so perhaps she felt more comfortable in saying something like that to me as compared to a complete stranger. However, I was still stunned at the statement; for her to vocalize that means a lot of people have really be mean.
I have worked in various service industries over the years (I started working at 12 or 13 with a paper route) and I know it can be rough. At another job, I had someone whistle and then point at me to get my attention. He then used his fingers to summon my presence as if I was a dog. The thing I most remember about him was his shirt that said: “It must really suck to be you.”
I’ve also been on the other side and experienced significant (and in my opinion, righteous) frustration with situations. I know I have not always been perfect in my responses, but I try to only take out my frustrations on those actually responsible for the issue and only when it is through a lack of caring on the person’s part. Mistakes happen and if the person is trying to rectify it as best as they can, I really try not to make it worse for them.
I’m not advocating being a doormat, but I think we could improve the lives of many people by taking a moment to consider if rude comments are deserved before issuing them. I know one waitress that might smile even more (and perhaps brighten other people’s days) because I chose to show a little kindness instead of berating her for something not in her control. In the end, I still got my food free and we both went home without either of us having hard feelings.