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Be Nice to Your Waitress

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astochrist
Like many people, my first job was in the fast food industry. I landed the position at 14 years old and thought I had hit the jackpot when I opened my first paycheck to find $126 inside. But the job was, to say the least, pretty humiliating… and disgusting.

I once refilled our two-gallon container of Ketchup in the back, only to have it spill all over me and the floor when I picked it up. I am not even kidding when I say that I’ve never eaten anything with Ketchup on it since.

The worst part was getting yelled at by customers when I had made a typo on their tickets that resulted in incorrect orders. Other times, it would be my boss doing the yelling, often in front of my friends. The saddest part was that this restaurant was located inside the megachurch where I grew up. The ruthless impatience was coming from my brothers and sisters in Christ!

Since gladly leaving my career in fast food behind, I’ve seen this kind of stuff play out all the time. I’ve seen waiters or waitresses get chewed out over messed up orders. I’ve watched people short their tips when the service was slow. I’ve even seen customers completely ignore their servers, as if they weren’t even human.

I really believe that the way a person treats someone in a service position says a lot about his character. As a result, I believe Christians should be distinct in the way we acknowledge and respect those who are serving us, whether in a restaurant or a customer service position. You’ll never understand how much a gracious act or a kind word means to someone in that role and how crushing an angry customer or client can be. So what can you do to show Christ to your clerk, waitress, or customer service representative? Here are a few ideas from someone who has had those jobs:

1. Be understanding.

Believe it or not, your waitress might not have been the one to mess up your order. It could have been the chef or even a computer glitch. Even if it is her fault, people make mistakes. Several weeks ago, I was eating dinner with some friends when the waitress messed up three of our four orders. She misheard all three of us order the same thing in the loud room. While the manager was the closest person we could call over, we went out of our way to tell her we weren’t upset. We just wanted the meal we originally ordered. When our waitress came back, she apologized and we joked with her about it. We could tell she was new and a little scared. She just needed someone to cut her some slack.

Likewise, many customer service representatives aren’t as helpful as you might like because the systems they work with are useless. Recently, Holly and I had to go up the management ladder to have a very expensive issue resolved. When the store manager called me back, I praised the guy who initially handled things and told her I knew she was limited in solving my problem so I had gone over her head to the corporate offices. I wanted her to know ahead of time so she didn’t think my problem was with her… just the system that created the confusion.

A messed up order or a delayed meal isn’t the end of the world. It isn’t worth destroying another person over it. Just nicely let them know what happened and make sure they know it’s okay if you sense they need the encouragement. In the end, are you so important that their flawed humanity (like yours) isn’t forgivable?

2. Be friendly.

I know this sounds pretty basic but so many people miss this. Be nice and outgoing with the person behind the counter, with your waiter, or with the person on the other end of the phone. If there is a lull in your customer service call, ask the guy on the other end how his day is going.

Recently, I even did this with a police officer who had pulled me over. While he was processing my warning for speeding, we chatted about his shift he had just started. I joked with him that I got to be his lucky first traffic stop for the evening. It was the side of a country road so we even got to stop and talk for a few minutes when the business was over. In the end, he was a really nice guy and it was a rather pleasant conversation.

You wouldn’t believe how many times, as a technical support guy or a clerk behind the counter, my customer or client wouldn’t even make eye contact or acknowledge that I was a fellow human being. As Christians, we should be different. We should be the ones who make those serving us feel appreciated and acknowledged.

3. Tip…always.

I know it’s a little different depending on where you live but the standard tip in Dallas is about 15-20%. Regardless of how good or bad the service might be, I always tip. Why? Because they receive a lower wage from their employers due to the expectations that tips will be given. Your waiter may not even know you were disappointed or why. If you’re unhappy, tip on the lower end of the acceptable spectrum but leave something. If the person does even a decent job, be generous.

I shouldn’t even have to say this but never, EVER leave a Gospel-tract as a substitute for a monetary tip. It is insulting to the person you are tipping and a terrible representation of who Christ is.

You may never know what your harsh sentiments or actions might do to a person. On the other hand, you’d be amazed how much a kind word might mean to someone who isn’t used to being acknowledged by those he is serving. I know this sounds like such an off-the-wall post but it’s one of the simplest ways to show Christ in our daily lives and we often miss the opportunity. Who knows if your kindness doesn’t lead that person to receive Christ years later?

Discuss: What are some other ways we can show Christ to those who are serving us on a daily basis?

Posted in: Ministry

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