Last weekend at my son’s graduation, we had the privilege of sharing the event with my husband’s brother’s family. They’re like the coolest people you’d ever want to be related to. Really. A year ago, all of them flew or drove out from three different cities, two states (Missouri and Arizona), and four households, to celebrate with us the graduation of the first two sons to graduate university. This year—wash, rinse, repeat. (Except the ones in the car, sadly sadly, hit a deer right before coming so with their car totaled, they had to cancel.)
I’ll tell you, feeding that many people at once in a college town flooded with other graduating families is a challenge. Last Saturday we had a particularly great experience so it caught my attention that today is National Waitstaff Day.
Remember in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” when Sally orders her meal with a ton of directions? Ha! Child’s play. With all my stupid dietary restrictions, I might as well stay out in the car and gnaw on the dashboard, for all that’s left of real food in my order once I’m done. But where we had dinner—Jeffries Bistro in Laramie, WY—our server couldn’t have been more patient and accommodating. She never once snickered at all my questions or requests, and she went back to the kitchen many times to talk to the chef and find out details and to arrange adjustments to my order. And I knew she was in good hands to be tipped accordingly and lavishly, because the certain family member who is known for his generosity picked up the check. Just a couple of weeks ago that very same person was eating out with his wife when they watched the crestfallen face of a diligent server when he looked at his paltry tip while clearing a nearby table. So my cool relatives doubled their tip and left a note, “For those cheap people next to us who shorted your tip.” Wasn't that kind? I love that story!
My son—one of the two who graduated last spring, the one with both an engineering degree and a Spanish degree (and did I mention with honors?)—just got a job at a restaurant. With rent and bills looming, and as student loans are calling in their markers, with or without sustainable employment, he had to just take what he could find, after sending out hundreds and hundreds of career applications. (Maybe thousands. The last many months while he toiled full time just applying for jobs, he’d send me a snapchat of his spreadsheet with how many jobs he’d applied for that day—the most in one day I remember was 38. In. One. Day.) Anyway, he’s now working at a restaurant, starting many shifts by vacuuming the entire restaurant or rolling enough silverware for all the guests to use throughout the day. Happy Graduation, son.
After being laid off from downsizing in the ’08 Recession, my husband-with-the-MBA was stocking shelves at Walmart. A woman asked him where something was that wasn’t in his department. He said he didn’t know but he would find someone for her who did. She got all snarky and said, “That one’s over your head, eh?” He dismissed it and only told me calmly in passing. I wanted to go find that chick and poke her in the eye! He wasn’t waiting tables, but you get my point. There are a lot of people we encounter whose stories we don’t know. A lot of them are waiting tables. And whether or not they have an MBA or barely got out of high school, they deserve respect and kindness. And generosity.
So as you go out this weekend for your restaurant meal, consider how you might be generous, and kind, and how you might help bring a smile to a server’s face instead of that awful crestfallen expression. Happy Waitstaff Day, everyone!
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