At this point, most of us servers with hardened attitudes are beginning to grumble things like, "If you don't want to be around people, then don't come into a restaurant" and "Great. Thanks for using my table as your office all day and not letting me turn the table over even one damn time."
When the lady left, there was a note on the table along with a twenty dollar tip. The note said:
Thank you. I found out that I have cancer today. And I needed a quiet place to sit and work. Remember what's important in life and no matter what, whatever the circumstance-be thankful. Even for the shitty stuff. Take care and thank you for letting me sit here.
p.s. Sorry if any customers were offended- I didn't realize my ear buds weren't working right and blared Prince for a while. Oh well.
What can we learn from this, folks? We can learn a few things, the least of which is that a cancer diagnosis cries out for spinach dip and Merlot. If it were me, I'd probably be more of a nachos and margaritas or Pepsi and Butterfingers kind of guy, but you say potato and I say potato. (That saying doesn't really work when typing it, does it?) We also learn that the musical stylings of Prince soothe the soul when one is down. What we really learn is almost a repeat of what I was trying to write about last week: be grateful. I suppose when you are told that you have cancer, then even the "shitty stuff" is better than the alternative, which is "no stuff."It isn't that different from when my Mamo Rita would catch herself complaining about being old and realize that being old is better than being dead. I know that couple of my posts lately have been less about the bitchy and more about something else, but maybe 2013 is trying to remind me that waiting tables can give me extraordinary experiences and not just shitty ones. Besides, the letter is teaching me to be grateful for the shitty ones anyway.
As servers, I guess we have to be aware that, like it or not, we are affecting the lives of our customers, sometimes in a completely insignificant way but other times maybe quite a bit. Whitney was nice to to this woman without even knowing that at that moment, she needed kindness more than ever. What if Whitney had told her something like, "I'm sorry, but I need to turn this table over so maybe you can go to Starbucks with your computer?" Whitney, unknowingly, gave the woman exactly what she needed that day which was a quite place to sit and work. But Whitney also gave the woman something else: kindness. Could it be that more of our customers want that from us than we think? Perhaps they are coming into our stations making demands and spouting off their needs but in reality they are crying out for a shoulder to cry on. Okay, probably not. More than likely, that woman who yelled at me last week about her burger being overcooked was in fact just a true bitch and not reaching out for kindness. Maybe she needed a lesson in gratitude and to be reminded to be thankful for the "shitty stuff" or in her case, a medium-well burger instead of a medium-rare one.
My point is, I guess we all have to be nice to our customers with the assumption that they are dependent on kindness to get them through their day. Maybe our job is more than carrying food to someone. Could it be that our job is to make sure people leave our station in a better mood than they were in when they got there? Could it be that I am waxing poetic simply because I chose to have two mimosas for breakfast this morning and my fingers are typing drunk words? Either way, I suppose that kindness is something we should aspire to have and give.
But back to the woman who wrote the note: Isn't is nice of her that on the very first day she has been diagnosed with cancer, rather than wallowing in her own misery, she made the decision to immediately start teaching others how to take full advantage of the life they have? I wish all good things for this mystery diner. I hope she makes a full recovery and that she has plenty of time to blare Prince all she wants. And thank you to Whitney for sending the photo so we can know that sometimes our customers need more than spinach dip or a bottle of Merlot. Sometimes they just need a friendly smile and a thoughtful hello. We can do that, can't we?
Click here to follow The Bitchy Waiter on Twitter.
Click here to find The Bitchy Waiter on Facebook.