I’ve said before that Mark and I take the girls to the same restaurant every Saturday. This has been our tradition for at least four years now- as soon as Bella was old enough to order off the kids menu. Over time we have had our favorite waiters and waitresses. Our most consistent favorite has been one of the guys there. He is probably the best waiter we’ve ever had. He remembers us from week to week. He always speaks to the girls by name and listens carefully as they give him their orders…even though it’s the same every week. He never lets a pickle touch their grilled cheese sandwiches and always keeps the coffee coming for me. I’d say having him as our waiter is almost as important as the meal itself, so his absense over the past couple of months has been disappointing. We’d come to the conclusion that he had moved on to something else and that our Saturday lunches would have to move on without him as well.
So yesterday I was in Border’s and sat down in a chair across from a guy reading a magazine. When I looked closely I realized it was him…my all-time-favorite waiter! I immediately told him how much we’d missed him and asked him where he had been. He responded by telling me that he had had surgery on his foot to remove bone cancer. CANCER. He’d been out of work because of Cancer. He hadn’t made the transition from the restaurant world to the business world, or finished grad school, or any other theory I had had. He was out somewhere going through treatments to save his health and his life, while I had been wondering who would fill my coffee cup on Saturdays.
I came home and told Mark about him and I couldn’t help but think about the way I move through my life. I come into contact with so many people everyday and so many of them are probably going through major stuff. I have been known to get irritated at waiters or cashiers or receptionists because I had to wait longer than I wanted to or my order got mixed up and in those moments it has always been about me and how I’m feeling. I never stop to think about what that person might be going through that is distracting them or interfering with their work. I am going to keep my favorite waiter in mind when I interact with people from now on. Before I get too caught up in what is happening to me, I am going to try to be empathetic to what the other person might be feeling…especially with people who take on the jobs that bring them face to face with a demanding public all day long, like waiters.
So remember to be nice to the wait staff and tip them well!