Monday, May 11, 2015

The Customer is NOT Always Right

Dear Sirs and Madam,

You were wrong.

You were the guests who came into the restaurant where I work as a part-time employee. You were seated in my section and I was the one who had to endure the next hour and a half of serving you. From the moment our encounter began, you treated me with disdain and disgust. Every word spoken to me was delivered with a tone of annoyance and superiority.

You were wrong.

Part of me would understand your cruelty if I had done something, anything to deserve it. If the food took too long, if I had messed up your order, if I had spilled red wine on your new silk tie, or ignored your needs. Then again, even if I had done my job as poorly as possible, it still would not have warranted the treatment you gave me.

But that's not what happened, is it? If you and I were both being totally honest, we would have to admit that everything went just as it should have. Your questions were answered politely. Your order was taken and delivered correctly and in a timely manner. There was absolutely nothing that prevented you from choosing to enjoy your meal from start to finish. Your empty plates testify to that fact.

And since we are being totally honest, I will admit that there was that one thing I messed up.
I did forget to bring you that extra glass of ice the first time I returned to the table with your first round of drinks. I admit it. Sure, I brought it to you moments later, but I do confess my initial oversight.

But you had made up your mind about how you were going to conduct yourself long before that ice was forgotten, didn't you?

I had a smile on my face every time I approached your table, wearing it like a shield. As much as I wanted that smile to protect me from your attacks, there was only so much I could do before they hit their mark and started to wear me down. You complained about everything and took every opportunity to attack my every action. It didn't matter what I did or how I did it - it was wrong.

Never a please or thank you.
Never a kind word of any sort.

When I didn't bring you side plates with your soup, that was incompetent.
When I did bring you side plates for the dish you planned to share, that was inconveniencing you.
When I asked if you would like more wine, I was being pushy.
When I didn't offer you more wine, I was being inattentive.
When I refilled your water glasses, I was smothering you.
When I let them run low, I was neglecting you.

When I offered to bring you more hot water for your tea, you accused me of rushing you.

Then I brought you the check. I placed it in the middle of the table, standing straight up.
A few minutes later, it was lying flat, moved to the edge of the table. I approached, smiled, and asked if you were ready for me to take care of that for you. With an icy tone in your voice, the like of which cuts straight down to your heart, you hissed, "I haven't even looked at it yet" and slammed your hand down on top of it.

Forgive me, but after everything you had put me through, I was in no rush to return to the table. I was already fighting back the tears that threatened to break loose from behind my eyes. My pulse was racing. My face felt hot.

As I took care of my other customers, I kept a close eye on you to make absolutely sure I would give you absolutely no reason for further complaint. As you sat and chatted with one another, I made sure your water glasses were kept fresh and full. I watched for you to grab my eye or to hold up the check to indicate you were ready. The last thing I wanted was to give you any further reason to hurt me.

And then the three of you started to stand up, so I breathed deep and approached, the smile I've developed over the last 14 years of serving returning to my face. I asked if I could process your payment for you.

You looked me up and down, gesturing at my person with your hand. After you had assessed me from head to toe, wrinkling your nose slightly and deeming me to be unworthy of another second of your time and attention, your words came snarling out at me like venom:

I don't know! Is that what YOU DO? I don't know what it is that YOU DO. We are leaving, so you go ahead and do whatever it is that YOU PEOPLE DO because we are leaving.

With that, you turned your back on me. I smiled, biting my tongue so hard behind my teeth that I drew blood, and wished you a pleasant evening.

On the way past the hospitality desk, you took the time to stop and give a formal complaint about me.

You called me rude. Overbearing. You said I rushed you and ignored you. You called me incompetent.

I could have fired back. I could have stood up for myself, demanded to know why on earth you felt it was ok for you to treat me like a hunk of garbage you found lodged in the treads of your shoe. I could have dug in my heels, stood my ground, and launched my own assault.

I felt like chasing you out into the parking lot and demanding an explanation and an apology.

But I didn't.

Instead, I slinked out the back door of the restaurant, took a seat on a plastic milk crate, and had a good cry. I was just so angry, so hurt, so discouraged because of how you had treated me. I finished my shift and then went home to drown my sorrows with chocolate cake and an episode of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

For that evening, you wounded me deep enough to make me doubt.

In the morning, I woke up still slightly sick to my stomach, still slightly worked up from the night before.

But here's the thing. It took me until the next morning to really realize it, but once I got it, it hit me with a vengeance.


You were wrong about everything.

You were wrong about the things you had a problem with during your dinner.
You were wrong about the rude way you to spoke to me.
You were wrong when you ignored me and insulted me.
You were wrong when you slandered me.

Because I know what is True.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am the hand-crafted masterpiece of the Creator of the universe.
Though you treated me like I was worthless, the truth is that I am a prized treasure. I am worth dying for.
I am loved beyond measure, a ransomed daughter of the King and nothing, absolutely NOTHING you say or do will change that from being True.

And one more thing.

I'm a damn good server.

You were wrong about that too.

Your server

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