Ask any server and they will tell you how deflating their job can be. If they are industrious, they wait on people’s every whim in hopes of adding a few dollars in tips to their less than minimum wage salary. On a bad day, they would have made more money working at a fast food restaurant. Truly good days are often few and far between.
Thankfully, I have never had to wait tables, but my friends who have, tell me stories of the unbelievable rudeness and self-centeredness of many restaurant patrons. Perhaps an even larger insult is that to the majority of restaurant patrons, the worker is a nameless, faceless blob with food.
Restaurant workers will also (sadly) tell you perhaps the worst patrons of all are Christians dining after Church on Sunday. These Christians are not showing the workers God’s love or frankly the respect any human being deserves. God must weep for these poor restaurant workers every Sunday.
I’ll admit, I have had to learn to focus over the years in order to remember to treat the servers who wait on my table as long lost friends and not just my “minions”. Over the last few years, I have really tried to improve my tendency to not notice the details of life, which unfortunately has sometimes meant not really seeing the people around me. My daughter’s recent Girl Scout Gold Award Project raised my awareness even more as to how important it can be to make a concerted effort to show God’s love to restaurant workers.
Your family can make a difference in the lives of the restaurant employees you encounter! In fact, try to get it to spread to the rest of your congregation. Make Sunday the best day for restaurant workers, instead of the worst. How? Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. When your server greets you, ask him his name and how his day is going. Try to find out one thing your group has in common with your server. Maybe he is a student or she is from a state you just visited on vacation. Can your family make your server laugh before the end of the meal? Does your server seem happier when you leave than when you came into the restaurant (and not because you are leaving!)?
2. Keep special requests to a minimum and apologize for making them do extra work to serve you. Yes, I realize it is part of the job, but seriously, haven’t you had family members or house guests who drove you crazy with all of their special requests? Your servers are usually very busy and probably have more tables to wait on than they should. Be respectful of their time and attention. Was anyone at your table actually able to make the server’s job easier? How?
3. Be appreciative. Say thank you for each service they provide for you. Try leaving a 20% tip just to encourage them. Part of my daughter’s Gold Award Project for Girl Scouts was handing out “congratulations” cards to restaurant workers in restaurants with “A” food safety ratings. We have been floored at the positive reaction from restaurant workers. They have even made a special trip to our table to thank us for appreciating the “unseen” hard work of keeping your food safe. (You can print off copies of the cards from the No A? Walk Away! website.) If you don’t have cards with you, write a nice note on the bill. Who at your table does the best job of showing genuine gratitude towards the server? Who was able to make the server feel as if she were a part of your group? Did you find a way to show God’s love to the busboys and cooks in the restaurant?
4. If it is a restaurant you frequent regularly, remember the names of the workers and greet them by name each time you see them. Ask a question about a conversation you had the last time you ate there. Invite them to attend church with you. Was your server interested in visiting your church? Did you leave your server feeling God’s love for her? Does your regular server feel like a part of your group? Would he miss you if you didn’t come in for awhile?
Have fun with it. How many ways can you show restaurant workers God’s love and share your faith with them? I would love for you to share creative ways you have encouraged restaurant workers. You may just help another family share God’s love and faith with someone new at lunch this Sunday!