“Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?” –Original Source Unknown
Last night, after a long day, the family and I stopped by a local diner for a–hopefully–quick dinner. This particular place is not usually busy at night, and upon entering, it didn’t seem to be full. As we sat down, I noticed the booth beside us, filled with three young adults–a twenty something boy and girl and a teen girl (probably about 18).
Before we were even settled into our booth, I could hear the older girl complaining. Ringleader loudly said, “I did not order a Dr. Pepper, and I ain’t paying for it, either!” I smiled to myself; people like this crack me up. If the most you have to complain about is a wrong drink order, your life is pretty good.
I wasn’t smiling for long.
I could hear the waitress apologizing, as she picked up the apparently poisonous drink. She hurried by our table, promising to “be with us soon.” Seeing the worry on her face, I told her to take her time, we were in no hurry. In reality, I was exhausted. I’ve been in this MS relapse since January 13, and in the last two weeks fatigue has been my nemesis. It was already late…The Husband and I led the youth group that night (we take turns with another couple), starting with afternoon Mass, so it was already 8pm. I really didn’t have much more energy for the day; I was whipped. Regardless, that wasn’t the waitress’ problem, or anyone’s, for that matter.
When the waitress finally did return to our table, she did so with many apologies. Apparently, it was her first night at this new job. I instantly pitied her. The rest of our dining experience went something like this: we had to wait a while to get drinks, a while to place our order, and even longer to receive our orders. (I think I overheard something about them being short-staffed that night.) Regardless, we were patient. The Husband and I both worked with the public when we were younger, and we know how cruel they can sometimes be, so we always make a point to try to be “good customers.” The waitress was trying, and she always came to our table with a smile–that was enough for us.
We made the most of the situation; we spent time enjoying each other’s company. But this story isn’t really about us.
Throughout the evening, no matter how much I tried to tune her out, Ringleader complained, grumbled, frowned, and downgraded the waitress. The restaurant didn’t have the salad dressing she wanted, her drinks weren’t getting refilled fast enough, she didn’t get extra napkins, etc, etc, etc. I can’t imagine being that miserable all of the time. I can’t imagine being around someone who is that miserable all of the time, and here’s why:
Her negativity spread like wildfire. Before the night was over, both the teen girl and the boy had joined Ringleader in complaining and being rude to the waitress. I honestly have no idea how the waitress kept her poise; I admired her.
And, after a while, the negativity had actually spread to the booth next to Ringleader’s. They had a different waitress, but when the girl at that table (again, a young woman in her early 20’s) got her burger, the whole restaurant heard her yell, “They didn’t put no mustard on my burger!” (Oh, the horrible grammar; it’s like a knife in my side.) Her boyfriend got up, politely brought the burger to the kitchen, and came back with mustard packets. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for Princess. She exclaimed, “Oh, hell nah, I gotta put the mustard on myself?!?”
It was amazing; this woman had been quiet and polite the whole evening! Why was she now so rude and loud? Could it be that her attitude was ruined by the rude table she was next to?
It made me wonder, why do some people choose to be so unhappy? In the big scheme of things, what does it matter if you have to wait an additional two minutes to get the correct drink? If you have to actually ask for extra napkins? If you have to, God forbid, put your own condiments on your burger? Why is that so important to some people?
Is it that their lives are so miserable, so lacking in content, that they have to focus on these little things?
Are these people so selfish that they cannot, for one moment, be compassionate of another person? Like a waitress in training, for example.
Why can’t we all just get along? I think the answer to that very famous question is a simple one.
We don’t live by the Golden Rule.
If everyone would just put down their own selfishness, and treat others the way they’d want to be treated, this would be a much different world. Regardless of what faith you carry, or don’t carry, we can all be kinder to each other. That’s not a faith issue; it’s a humanitarian one.
At the end of the night, the waitress thanked us for our patience. She said that she was so lucky to get such a great table on her first night. I made a point to tell her, “Your service was good; don’t let other people get you down. I’m sorry you had such a rude table, not everyone will treat you that way. I hope you have a really good night, and good luck in your new job.” Those simple words brought a smile to her face.
Don’t be a “Ringleader”. Don’t be a “rude table”.
Be kind to each other.
Love…It’s not just a feeling, it’s an action. Live it.