Last week, I won tickets to a show via the Broadway lottery. After a fun and spontaneous night out, my roommate suggested we grab a quick bite at a restaurant around the corner. The clock was edging ever closer to the time that I typically like to be in my pajamas on a weeknight, but I really had to use the restroom and I was not about to wait in the theatre line that accompanies a Broadway musical.
In good spirits, we entered the restaurant. I dropped my bag and jacket on the chair across from my roommate, told him to order me a water, and left for the restroom. I was back a few minutes later when he told me nobody had arrived yet. I wasn’t concerned. We talked and caught up and perused the menu. Eventually, we folded up our menus and began to casually look around – the universal restaurant sign for “server, please!”
That’s when we looked back at the time. It had been 40 minutes since we had been seated and nobody had come to our table to even get us a drink. My roommate got up and approached a server who brought us waters before another 15-minute wait kept us from ordering. The service did not get any better from there.
I’ve never been one to complain at a diner or write a bad Yelp review – that’s exactly why I’m not naming the restaurant in this post. I understand that oversights can happen and I’m not one to try to get somebody in trouble. At the end of the night, our food took a bit longer than expected and we had a hearty laugh at absurdity of it, watching people who were seated after us have multi-course meals and leave before we had even ordered.
Despite staying out much later than originally intended, the bad service was more inconvenient and almost humorous than anything else and I perhaps would have forgotten about it completely were it not for another experience less than 24 hours later.
The next evening, I dragged myself into an Urgent Care. Like most people who visit Urgent Care, I was desperate, exhausted, and not a happy camper. I walked up the receptionist desk where a young woman was talking on the phone. From the snippets I could hear on her end, it sounded like the person on the other end was unhappy. I filled out the entry survey and sat back down, my view of the woman now blocked by a desk plant.
When I no longer heard her measured responses, I stood up and cautiously walked over to see if she was off the phone. She immediately looked up at me, smiled, and apologized. She thanked me for my patience and asked if I had been there before.
We danced the polite “new patient” exchange as I filled out my forms and provided my photo ID and as I sat back down to wait for my name to be called, I found myself smiling.
Bad service may not always ruin a meal, but good service, when done right, can make even a cloudy trip to the doctor feel a little less dreadful. Even through my brief encounter with the Urgent Care receptionist, I was reminded how important those little acts of kindness are – the simple smile, the “thank you for waiting,” the “how can I help you?”
There is a certain untouchable grace in that kind of sincerity.
Even if you don’t work in the service industry, find some way to serve with a little bit of goodness this week. You never know what kind of ripple effect that might have.