Archive for November, 2014

From The Mouths Of Babes

Posted November 28, 2014 By tjflynn

Okay, those of you who know me are aware that I have made my living for several recent years primarily by building restaurants. And, those of you who read this blog regularly know that I talk about service in restaurants. Judging solely by my girth, I probably eat at too many restaurants and work too little at building them. But that’s fodder for another time, another blog.

Today we are talking about service, but from a slightly different angle…from the eyes of an 8-year old. And examining her Nana’s reaction to the wide-eyed wonder and naivete.

So, its one of those nights where a portion of each meal price is donated to the child’s school and the excitement and anticipation of the evening are enough to cause a fog in the Jeep. A fog thick enough to literally cut with a knife. But since the kids are not allowed to use knives, and the adult is busy driving, the fog just stays there, like malodorus gas that you can’t run away from on beer-hangover day.

Once the money changing has taken place, the event turns magical. Kids and adults go with gusto to gather morsels from the buffet line. To fill up but not appear piggish. To maximize the utility of each of the colorful plastic plates carefully loaded and sculpted then taken to the tables with concentrated effort. Owning each empty plate on the table as if it were depositable cash. “Dang right, those are my empties. Don’t look now, but there’s more empties to come. I ain’t nearly done yet.” Dancing the dance of joining fellow humans in the chaos of the no-limit-bi-directional buffet seige.

The server had come to our table for the second, maybe the third time with special-ordered pizzas when the princess innocently mentioned that, “being a server at Stevie Bs must be the best job in the world.” When pressed, she logically justified this position by saying, “it’s all you can eat pizza and games all day long and he gets paid for doing it.”

I thought that she was using her brain to a good end and chuckled at her perspective, then scarffed down 3 more pieces of various pizza flavors that were sitting on my plate begging to be transformed into midnight indigestion. Her parents must have thought the same because they smiled lovingly at her and returned to ingesting their triangles with a purpose.

The wise Nana, however, didn’t allow her hunger or the pizza stuffing endeavor to cloud her mind. She maintained her focus and impeccably carried out her responsibility of eager mind forming by immediately instructing the young thing. “You won’t work in a restaurant, though”, she said.

An absolutely brilliant move on Nana’s behalf. I wish that I had thought of it, instead of concerning myself with new hot pies being slid on the buffet racks while cramming more food into my mouth. Nana had the attention of 3 young minds seated around the table. They were a captive audience. Her words to one child were heard and analyzed by three. She got 3-fer. She also inadvertently reminded the parents of their responsibility for wise child counseling.

The gist of the ensuing conversation was that, while some jobs look fun, they are not jobs that one would want to actually have. (Long hours and low pay…get educated and work smarter not harder…etc.)

Two points regarding service.
1. Nana did not miss the opportunity to be a positive influence in the life of her loved-ones. She knows something about caring enough to influence, about service to others.
2. The server, that night, made his job look fun. It takes a certain mind set to work hard and make it look fun. That’s the thing that made the server stand out. He knows something about the kind of service that we all shouldn’t mind paying for.