I want to share a story with you that happened to me and Deena recently… I don’t share it for recognition but hopefully it can bring a smile to your face… and maybe even change how one sees the world. If your day is a bit brighter because of it, I’ll consider this a success. (Make sure you read all the way through to the end for a couple of additional observations and to share YOUR perspective…)
At A Restaurant In The Poconos
There’s a small restaurant on the lake near the Poconos. Deena and I thought we’d try it out. Looked nice, seemed like it had good food, and of course the surroundings were beautiful.
When we walked in, there were maybe 30 people there.
The server, Sara, was really nice and she seated us and took our drink order and went to get menus.
Fifteen minutes later, Sara finally showed up with the menus, then left again, and came back another 5 minutes later with our water.
(Honestly, back in the day this would have pissed me off and I would have walked out. But I’m a little more mature now so I looked around the restaurant while we waited patiently. )
While looking around, Deena and I noticed something: our server Sara was the only one working. She ran from table to table, taking orders, delivering food, clearing the table… she probably would have run if she could… and some of the people she was waiting on weren’t very kind to her.
Sara was nearly out of breath when she brought our waters back and she smiled and apologized every time she came by. Finally I told her that there was no need to keep apologizing, we were just enjoying the view out the window. I added, “And it’s not like you’re busy!” She laughed and thanked us for making her smile.
I also noticed something else: while she had stepped up to serve her customers well beyond what she was capable of doing, and really pushed herself to be positive and apologetic at the long wait times, many customers left without leaving a tip and even one person left without paying the bill!
Deena and I sat in awe that others would treat someone like this, especially when it was clear to see how hard she was working.
We Waited And Waited… Finally Our Food Came
A tad over an hour after order, we got our food.
Sara came over and laid the bill on the table as if she was afraid to. She had been berated and yelled at so much in the hour we were there that she was afraid of what we might do.
Deena and I looked at each other and smiled as we were on the same wavelength.
Deena used to serve and we’ve talked about how hard it can be, especially if the manager screws up the scheduling and leaves you to fend for yourself as the front-line staff to a restaurant full of pissed off people.
So we paid the bill (it was like $32 bucks) and then left $100 dollar bill as a tip.
A couple days go by and we went back to the restaurant… and guess who our server was?
She smiled ear to ear when she saw us and came over and said, “THANK YOU. I don’t know you but you changed my life.”
The puzzled looks on our faces prompted her to continue, “I was having a bad day, as you could clearly see that day. But I came to work because I have bills to pay. But I’ve been having a difficult time lately and I’ve been praying for a sign to keep on going.”
Then she said, “I didn’t know if I would ever see you two again but I wanted to give you something.” She handed us a card – it was a thank you card.
It was a moving moment and a very powerful one. And I’m writing it to help me remember (for the days when I may not be as patient) and also maybe this story can help others remember, too: always treat people with kindness. And when you’re frustrated by something, observe the situation and realize that the person you’re frustrated at may have the least control – they just happen to be on the front-line, taking a beating because someone else screwed up. And, a simple gesture can change someone’s life forever.
Plant the seeds and reap the rewards. I thank my parents for this… they are amazing and helped me understand this powerful lesson.
Folks, we’re only on this earth for a very limited time. And there’s already enough negatively in the world. Let’s do what we can to make each moment and each interaction a little more positive – you could change someone’s life because of it.
I’ve shared the lessons I learned from this. What did you learn? How would you have handled the situation? Share your input below… or if you a have a similar story I’d love to hear it.
Your Friend And Mentor,
Mark Evans DM,DN