As someone who enjoys observing, writing about, and of course, eating in restaurants, several aspects of the experience have been noticeably different coming out of the pandemic. In general, we've all come to expect slower service, less attention because of having fewer waitstaff members on the floor, longer wait times because all tables can't be used if there are no employees to serve them, and, in some cases, there's even a smaller menu -- again, because of the lack of people in the kitchen. Invariably, it boils down to not having enough people willing to work.
I went through the drive-through line at a fast-food restaurant in Hartselle recently. The line moved VERY slowly. Then, when I finally got to the window to pay, I was told to wait before driving to the next window for my food. Now admittedly I took that as a chance to have a nice chat with the girl taking my money, but it was still disconcerting. When I was finally given the go-ahead to pull forward, the harried manager passed my sack through the opening, and said, "I'm so sorry for your wait. We're falling apart back here." I drove off feeling very sorry for that manager. . . . for so many reasons.
In another instance, Steve and I recently used a generous birthday gift card to have dinner at a chain restaurant in Decatur. When we saw the packed parking lot, we assumed we'd have a long wait. Instead, we were seated in less than ten minutes. The process of registering and seating guests was seamless. Our server gave us immediate and frequent attention. There were many servers buzzing around. Every table was full, and every diner appeared happy. The food was good. It arrived hot and exactly as we had requested. Our glasses were constantly refilled. The difference between this and other restaurants we've visited recently was remarkable. The servers were wearing shirts that literally declared, "I love my job!" I had to know more.
I asked our server WHY she loved her job, and her response was enthusiastic. "We're a family here. We have each other's backs. We help each other out. I'm happy to get things for tables that aren't mine, and my friends do the same for my tables. I have worked in other restaurants. The pay is about the same, but I'd rather be here. Everything just goes so much smoother, and it's a happier environment."
Wow! The manager of that restaurant has figured some things out. While other businesses are struggling to find workers, this place has an abundance. He or she has instilled a great work ethic by encouraging cooperation and making things fun. They work just as hard but find it a pleasure to do so.
I'm not in the restaurant industry. I don't know the ins and outs of making a restaurant operate well. I know that restaurants suffered greatly during the pandemic with many of them closing their doors forever. I also know that the general public LOVES to eat out and is happy to be doing so again.
There's not a lot I can do to make things better, but as a follower of Christ, I believe there are ways I can help those who serve me in public places feel better rather than worse.
1) I can be pleasant and courteous.
2) I can be patient.
3) If my order is incorrect, I can be forgiving and willing to accept a solution.
4) I can call the server by name and express my appreciation.
5) I can say "thank you" . . . a LOT.
5) I can tip generously.
What suggestions would you add to this list?
Colossians 4:5-6 -- "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
Ephesians 4:32 -- "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."