Yesterday was not a good “Diet” day for me. I did not control my water intake at all. Every time my “WaterMinder” app signaled it was time for more water, I would ignore it and go about whatever was on my immediate to do list at the time.
As a result, my best laid plans for eating right were utterly crushed when I allowed my body to lie to me and tell me I was hungry when, in fact, I was actually thirsty. Its a common mistake I make all too often. Sometimes I blame the job. Most of the time its simply a lack of discipline on my part.
Regardless, my day was pretty well shot on the eating side yesterday. So, when I got back into Cleveland at around 9:30 last night I stopped by a local establishment to get something to eat and relax a bit before going home where, for all intents and purposes, I would be iced in for the next day or two.
As I looked over the menu, I tried to at least keep my order simple (although extremely fattening). I settled on a simple grilled cheese sandwich. How hard that can be, right? I’ll get that, scarf it down, head home, and crawl into bed after a very long day. Problem solved.
I had a new waitress. You know the scenario. Probably her very first day on the job. So I smiled and gave her my drink order while I looked over the menu. When she brought that and timidly asked for my order, I smiled my best reassuring smile and ordered the grilled cheese. Then I settled in to Words with Friends, Facebook, and Twitter on my phone.
I knew I had a problem when my regular waitress approached the table. She asked if my drink order had been delivered correctly. I assured her it had. Then I learned that the new girl had put the wrong drink order into the computer system. No real problem for me, right? I got what I ordered. I went back to burying my face in my phone.
I looked up expectantly when I saw a plate being carried to my table. I smiled and said, “Thank y…..uh, this is not my order,” as I looked a plate overflowing with a grilled chicken sandwich and fries. I reminded her that I ordered grilled cheese, not grilled chicken. A common mistake in a place blaring loud music and filled with people trying to talk over it.
She apologized. I smiled. And I went halfheartedly back to my phone screen while also paying attention to what was going on around me. I could tell she was scared, or nervous, or both. She had to call a manager over to explain her mistake and fix it in the computer. So I put my best hey-I’m-ok-don’t-sweat-it face on. She continually came by to ask if I was ok. She apologized profusely each time. She kept telling me my order would be ready soon.
And, although I was highly irritated (and expressed some of that in my normal catty way on Facebook to draw a few laughs and comments from my pain), I kept smiling and reassuring her that I was fine.
At one point, about 45 minutes into this fiasco, I almost left. I was tired. Food was no longer important. I was impatient. This had never happened to me at this establishment. I’m sure you’ve been there. I’ve certainly left for less at other places.
Finally, when my food came she apologized again and explained that while I was waiting one of their cooks had just walked off the job and the kitchen was slammed. Now, in time, I’m sure she will learn to explain to customers what is going on. I’m sure she will think to have a manager come over and speak to a guest who hasn’t had the best service. She might even attempt to take something off the bill of a person who waits an hour for a grilled cheese sandwich.
None of that happened last night. And when I learned what was going on behind scenes, the scenario hiding underneath the viewable show, I was glad I hadn’t walked out. I immediately thought of the harm that could have done to this trainee.
As a result, I enjoyed my grilled cheese sandwich. I put aside my disgust with myself for once again eating something filled with fat and gooey wasted calories. And I watched this girl try to get over the butterflies in her stomach and go on about her job.
I wound up leaving a $12 tip on an $8 bill.
And then, on the way home, I wondered how many times this same scenario played out in my classes. Kids don’t get their homework done. They didn’t study for a test. They wrote a really awful essays in what I know is my highest level class. They act out. They get loud. They are angry. They smart off. They sleep.
And I thought of how many times I had reacted badly. I heaped on guilt. I punished them with silence. I ignored their raised hands.
But if I had been paying attention, instead of having my face buried in the screen of my own life, I might have been more caring. More understanding. More helpful. And given them a $12 tip for $8 of learning.
It pays to know what’s hiding underneath.