Friday, January 18, 2013

Be Kind to Food Servers Month

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By Diane Forrest

During the few months I had between Junior and Senior College, I had a brief stint as a waitress at a local hotel restaurant.  It is a very nice hotel, over 100 years old, and the finest in town.  The elevators had operators that wore gloves, and the wait staff all wore uniforms, the ladies wore green dresses with white aprons, and the men wore black pants, white shirts with black vests.

The time I spent there was a very exciting time.  The hotel was full of movie stars who were in town filming the movie North and South.  I recognized several actors from their work on television shows, and expected them to be as nice in person as the people they portrayed on tv.  That was not the case. These people were not the same as the local southern care free people I was used to waiting on.  They were always demanding and in a hurry, and hardly ever left a tip.
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This was several years ago, and not the type of place that had food already prepared and sitting under warming lights.  These orders were cooked when ordered, and a larger party meant a longer wait.

Going out to eat should be a fun experience.  Not rushed and hurried. The people who wait on you are there to make sure your time with them is fun and enjoyable and everything you expect.  They are there to bring you things you need, and answer questions you have, but they do not prepare the food.  They do however get the brunt of the anger when things aren't prepared to their liking.
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January is Be Kind to Food Servers Month.  Food serving is largely a thankless job.  Servers can be found in many places such as restaurants, school and hospital cafeterias, even some churches and meals on wheels programs. People who wait on you deserve your kindness and respect.  Remember they are doing you a kindness, and helping you get the things you would have to get for yourself if you were at home. It doesn’t take alot to smile and say thank you and have a little patience when someone is doing their best to make you happy. 

This reminds me of a story:
One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.
Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was those chills which only fear can put in you. He said, “I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.”

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.

As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.

Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty, who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, “And think of me.”

He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.

There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: “You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.”

Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard….

She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.”

Remember to be kind to everyone you meet!

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