Speaking from experience, opportunities for kindness abound in the world of waitressing, whether through cheering up a customer who needs a nice meal in the middle of a rainstorm or taking over a shift for a sick coworker.
I must admit, however, sometimes a server’s smile becomes strained and a little forced. Recently on a day when the weather outside was truly frightful, despite the best efforts of our cozy fireplace, the restaurant was not delightful enough inside to make up for an unexpected broken furnace. A January cold snap, chilly customers and one frost-bitten server led to a few frosty glares and heated complaints.
One table was understandably put out with the chilly temperature of the restaurant for their daughter’s birthday. I did my best to make their meal pleasant, but they were openly unhappy. Veiled accusations, verbalized dissatisfaction and visible discomfort foreshadowed the blistering note left on their check.
My primal instinct was to be defensive; “I want things fixed as much as they do…I did all I could to help…I’m not a professional repairman…the situation is out of my control.”
But instead, I knew God wanted me to follow this instruction:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive…” (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV).
Though stung by the scathing review, I went on to serve smiles and anything hot the kitchen could dish out. As another birthday party arrived and graced the threshold of my dining room, these new guests cheerfully stayed in their coats throughout the meal, having been warned of the malfunctioning heat.
Determined to help them celebrate despite the cold, I whipped together a complimentary birthday dessert of hot chocolate, whipped cream and sprinkles outside of our usual menu. They were thrilled by the hot treat.
At the end of their meal, as I apologized again for the cold, the mother of the birthday girl told me I’d made up for the chill by “being so sweet.”
Service, whether in the food industry or for the cause of Christ, is full of hurdles, and how we choose to respond will shape how others see Who we represent.
Let us all respond to harsh criticism or missteps with determination to be even more compassionate.
Bethany is a graduate of Berry College in Rome, Georgia, with a degree in Creative Writing. In addition to writing, she enjoys crocheting, cooking and reading. Bethany attends the Hixson Campus of Stuart Heights, where she sings in the choir.