Carol writes regularly over at Battered Hope, where this post was originally featured. She has written a memoir with the same name that is available on Amazon.
Have you ever wanted to say something when you observed bad behavior in a public place? Ever take the plunge and open your mouth to encourage a stranger who needed it?
It had been an exceptionally long day. The heat was close to unbearable. It was my third day in a row that I had risen at 4:15 A.M. to travel to the city by ferry. I was on my way home and missed the ferry by a few minutes. I decided to have some dinner as the wait would be two hours for the next boat.
It was a long walk to the closest restaurant and I hoped the food would give me the energy for the walk back to my car. I stopped at a little fish ‘n chips place. It was packed with only one table available. I grabbed it and realized how much hotter it was inside, but it felt good to sit down.
There was only one waitress working. I couldn’t believe it. The ceiling fans were the only source of moving air and I was relieved to be sitting under one of them.
“Miss! I need you to turn down those fans as they are much too drafty!” The woman in the booth next to mine demanded.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
The heat was pouring out of the open kitchen into the dining area and the waitress looked like she was ready to pass out.
“No problem.” She smiled at the woman and I began to watch her closely. She was doing everything. Clearing the tables, serving the food and running the till at the front. I guessed her to be about 25 years old. Looking deeper, I sensed a warmth about her and wondered if she was putting herself through school to be a nurse.
“Miss! MISS! My salad has too much dressing on it. I want a fresh one with less dressing.” What is wrong with this rude woman? No please. No thank you. Just… do it.
“No problem.” Did I detect a slight rolling of the eyes as she turned to get another salad?
She brought my meal and asked the rude couple if everything was okay so far. “Fine!” This time, the husband spoke and he sounded like he was angry for having his meal interrupted by this question.
As the couple was leaving, the manager spoke, with a slight wave and a smile. “Have a nice day. Thank you for coming.”
The man turned to look but didn’t have the courtesy to respond. I was livid. I waited until all the tables were empty and then called the waitress over to my table.
“Would you sit down for a moment, please?” She looked terrified without a clue what I was going to say to her. “I want to commend you.” She looked confused. “My hat is off to you.” I don’t think she knew what I was talking about.
“What I am trying to say is this. I have been watching you for the past hour. You are hot, tired and overworked. Yet, you treated every customer with respect and a smile. You are a hard worker. You are not a complainer. My bet is you do not want to be a waitress the rest of your life.”
She had tears running down her beautiful young face. I continued. “One of the main reasons I never wanted to be a waitress is because of morons like the ones who sat at that table.” She smiled slightly and nodded, wiping her tears.
“I want to encourage you to maintain the work ethics you displayed here and you will go far. I would hire you in a minute. Are you in school?” She nodded.
“I sense that you have a lot on your plate and feel a bit overwhelmed at times. It will get easier. Don’t ever allow anyone to belittle you because you are a very special young woman.” Her tears were flowing quickly now and I thought I better stop.
“By the way, that was your tip!”
She laughed and went to the till. As I was paying my bill I said, “Next time you have a bad day, remember what I told you.”
“I will never forget what you told me. It is ingrained in my brain forever. You have no idea what it meant to me.” I knew she meant it.
My steps were a lot lighter as I made my way back to my car. I was thrilled I took the time to make her day — possibly even her week.
How about you? Have you ever done something that made you feel all warm and fuzzy? Maybe said something nice to a stranger or helped someone you never met before? Aren’t the rewards great?