I was at Panera Bread a few weeks ago and the manager was taking my order. He asked me how my day was going and then I asked him the same thing. He thanked me for asking him and said that while he has been working at that particular restaurant, no customer has asked him that question. He mentioned that since the restaurant was located in the Briargate Shops it must have to do with the people that usually shop and eat there. I was puzzled to tell you the truth. He was inferring that it was a shopping center with perhaps more “well-to-do” shoppers. My experience is that anyone and everyone hangs out at that shopping center, but his comment mostly made me sad because I think it’s an attitude some people have no matter who is serving them or where they are being served.
I also noticed something similar at the grocery store the other day. The cashier was trying to make friendly conversation with the lady in front of me, only to receive forced, one-word answers. Maybe this customer had something on her mind that day…I get that and it happens. I don’t want to question other peoples’ motives, but more often than not, customers I observe can be rude to those serving them.
Last weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at a very nice hotel, thanks to a gift card we received from some of his co-workers when we had our baby. This was truly a 5-star type of place and the only time I’ve experienced people falling all over themselves to serve me. It made me feel a little uncomfortable. What I appreciated most was that wherever we went – to dinner or the pool, the servers would say “Happy Anniversary!” It was a nice touch. The gal at the pool dragged lawn chairs and a table to a special spot by the lake and put our towels over the chair in a specific, comfortable way. Servers came by to ask if we needed anything. I saw one of them bring the wrong drink to someone’s wife and get berated for about five minutes. The wife shook her head the whole time…she must have been pretty disappointed.
All of this got me thinking. I wish we would all treat others like they were rich. The servers at the hotel we stayed at did it because it’s part of their job, and perhaps so they could get a nice tip. Most of them were genuine….don’t get me wrong. I admire their ability to serve. But the reason they do it is because of the kind of people that typically stay at their hotel. They are trained to serve this way, and required to do so.
What if we treated those who waited on us like they were rich, but not because they are rich – but because we choose to see them as important in this world. We ask our dogs and cats how they are doing. Why can’t we ask the server? And why don’t we want to?
I write this not as someone who does this well all the time. It’s easy if I’m in a good mood or if my shopping or eating experience was perfect. But what if my food is wrong? What if the grocery line is long and my baby and toddler are screaming? Well, maybe I don’t act nicey-nice then. But I could choose to. What matters is how we act when things don’t go our way.
I was touched reading the story in the Bible about Sarai and her maidservant Hagar. Sarai was unable to get pregnant, so she had her husband Abram (aka Abraham) marry Hagar so she could have children through her. After Hagar became pregnant Sarai mistreated her and Hagar left and wandered in the desert. An Angel found her and asked her where she was going. He then told her to go back and submit to Sarai…and promised her that God would also make her descendants too numerous to count. Her son was named Ishmael – which means “God hears”. Hagar prayed to God after this saying “You are the God who sees me”, for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16) Hagar obviously felt like the lowly, unnoticed one. But what motivated her to go back to a difficult situation was a God that noticed her and gave her hope for the future.
We are not God, but we can embrace and live out the things that matter to God. What a blessing we could be by “seeing” someone else- especially someone whose job is to serve us somehow. What if we treated them like they were the rich one, or the one we were serving. There are countless ways we could “see” someone else in our day-to-day activities. It may just make their day….
© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, August 2012.