One day, in the bathroom….
…at a national chain restaurant, my traveling companion loves…
I overheard the following conversation take place between two restaurant staff:
“Are you okay? “
“My dad had a stroke this morning – found out right before work – don’t know what is going on yet or how he is”
“I’m so sorry, do you need to go home? Ya want me to call my friend to cover your shift?”
“No, I need the money, and not certain if there is anything I can do by being there, I’ll just wait and check my messages during break”
And those two front line workers, exited the bathroom, after washing their hands more fully than, I suspect, is even shown in Medical Drama TV series, , took the floor and ‘did their work for the day”
I saw, later, on the floor, front line service, the worker who got bad news, right before shift.
She was stopped by one demanding drinks service and ‘what’s the hold up? on getting served’ harsh inquiry, by the spokesman of a party of folks sitting not far from me.
Who, I confess, had already sort of annoyed me with their grandiose, loud ways….
She calmly and gently, replied,
“I’ll let your server know you are ready place your food order, and we are short staffed on bar staff, so drink orders are taking a bit longer today, sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.”
As she was walking away from the table, self-elected spokesman for that table, said, loud enough for me, thus, surely loud enough for her younger ears, to hear,
“Well, she sure doesn’t give smiling service at all, does she? Well, lets wait a bit longer, but we are NOT leaving a tip – that’ll teach her…I’m so tired of incompetent workers who ask for higher wages….(yada, yada, yada, morph into politics rant) “
Well, in one way, I personally congratulated myself, and still feel I exercised great personal control in not storming over to the table, shaking my finger in that man’s face, or slapping him with a leather glove or my open palm & calling him outside for duel to the death…while I called him anything but a human being….and explained loud and proud, just how wrong he was, and…btw, has he ever, in his life, worked a front line, menial labor job?
Has he??? No??? Well then shut the !@#$ up, you, sir, know nothing!
Um, yeah – that’s my ‘adrenaline’ side gearing up….
I also, meanwhile, didn’t I embarrass my dinner companion, by taking any action at all, given their long time held view that I constantly, and rudely, dare to intercede into things, that, afterall, is really, NONE of my business, is ‘how it is’ and just causes everyone, including me and her, unneeded embarrassment, loss of social status or strife in life…
On the other hand?
I was silent witness to the BS that seems to be acceptable, anytime, anywhere, for any reason, anymore, and, through my silence?
Through my silence?
I Just signed up for, by personal choice, to be a collaborator in the whole sorry mess of the ‘not so stellar side’ of humanity – and propagated it/gave silent consent to rampant unkindness.
To this day, nearly 3 weeks later…
I think of this moment, in time, once more…
I ask myself and the Universe, what else could one ask of her, really?? She stopped, served, was polite, and went off to do her job.
She didn’t ignore the customer need, she didn’t walk on by…
To me? Nothing more to ask for or demand, of her…
Her failure as worker/customer service as judged by another?
She didn’t have her happy, bubbly, smiley face on, NOR did she wave her magic Fairy wand and instantly gratify the customer’s request.
I’d much rather have a world full of folks like her, working to serve others, than so many of those who wait on me in various fronts, with their bubbly, vivacious, smiling faces – why?
Cuz I didn’t show up there, or in other fronts for self-help, happy wappy, positive thinking NOR did I show up thinking I was emperor for a day and my every whim and time frame must be met.
Either services can be provided, on my budget of resources/time frames, or they simply cannot be, and for me? Ain’t no pep-talk, positive thinking, smiley face of server with promises of ‘everything is fine, I’ll just feed your ego, so you don’t leave without paying/or leave me bad feedback my manager will use to fire me….” makes a nano bit of difference, to me, really, on whether I stick around or not.
So, for me? Tell me the truth (she did) offer to help as you can (again she did) and now?
I have the info to decide whether I want to stick around or not…
I have thought, here and there, over the past few weeks, what would have happened if I had simply gotten my temper under control, calmly got up, walked over to the table, and said in low voice,
“Hi, I overheard what you said out loud, and you don’t know, but I overheard her telling a co-worker, earlier, her dad had a stroke this morning and was being rushed to hospital, right before she started her shift, so she may not be able to smile as big or be as friendly/up as you were wanting today.”
What would have happened?
I won’t ever know, because I didn’t try – why?
Same story line, Different Day –
For me, from my past, for many, on and on and on.
Experience and history have shown me over and over, folks who act/behave, and say/do, really loud, not only that phrase regarding the staff (who, after observing? seemed to be a busser of dirty tables, overall), but also loud exclamations of ,
“Order what you want! Today is on me!
(I’m a big shot, and by gummy, I’m buying and we will get the best, because, afterall, I’m a big shot that is eager to prove to everyone else how big and powerful I am, and how I can make another’s life miserable, if they don’t ask ‘how high’ when I say, ‘Jump!'”
I can’t unwind all the times I was on receiving end, part of a dinner party with such a personality in it, or times I’ve observed such things as an onlooker, in restaurants –
And, well, I didn’t say/do anything, because, history/experience, has told me over and over, useless waste of energy, unless, I resort to physical violence or threats to the life of another on any fronts where they feel insecure.
Threats I can back up, by the way, or am willing to die trying to back up – before I utter them.
My Dad told me, “Don’t say it unless you’re willing to carry through”
Over time of similar experiences, over and over? I still don’t know how to drive the message home, in way they will get it that doesn’t really turn me into them, just now….
On the other hand, who knows?
What If I had gone over to the table?
Quietly asked the man, “Sir, could I speak to you privately for a moment, wanted to ask your advice on something….”
Given him a chance to say yes or no…
What struggles Lurk for Any of Us, Really??
Maybe he would have said yes, as king protector and savior of the poor and downtrodden only he can help….. (that’s my broad generalization/labeling of him…)
I might have found out he’s working 3 jobs, to provide for others, who only appreciate him when he ‘pays’, and is scared no one in his family/friends circle will love him anymore, if he can’t –
Or maybe he wanted to do one last fancy dinner, with huge bar tab, before his business he built over 30 years, goes under cuz it couldn’t survive all the hits of COVID years…. And in his deep despair, he just wanted, one last BIG splash, inadequate to compensate for the blood, sweat and tears he had invested over many years, on many fronts – but for the feeling of ‘one last big, meal I can still pay for”
Maybe, just for that day, he wanted to feel expansive, powerful, generous, but so rarely has felt that way, he didn’t know for sure ‘how to’ act while he tried to ‘feel’ as if….
Who knows for sure?
Certainly not I…
Can’t tell ya.
Cuz I was either a coward, or didn’t ‘waste the time/effort’ to try, and/or failed in my duties as a human being, on the very front/opportunity presented, that I claim to care about so much…
So again, a story from the front lines, that, in the end?
Always, always, holds a mirror up to me, to assess myself and whether I’m walking the talk I talk – 😀