It normally does not require a lot of nerve to tell a waitress or manager of a restaurant if you are receiving poor service. I admit that I would readily complain if, under normal circumstances, I had received unsatisfactory service during the course of a meal. It is entirely another thing, however, if you complain about service when the circumstances surrounding that service are extraordinary. That would take a lot of nerve…and yes, there are people in the world who have a lot of nerve.
My wife, her mother and I decided to eat dinner at a local 24-hour restaurant that is famous for steakburgers and shakes. We decided to do this after trying to prepare for our own dinner at home on a very warm afternoon, but we had just experienced not one but two power outages totaling almost two hours. The restaurant had just gone through the same thing and had a staff of eight. Other restaurants in the area were not operating at all, so this was the only place in the area that was still open for business. Since the power company had declared to the manager that the power would not likely be back on until later that evening, she decided to send home three-fourths of her staff. You can imagine what happened when the power came back on earlier than expected. We were one of a group of several people that came in for dinner, and the air conditioning there was wonderfully inviting. I told my wife that we made it in just in time before the customers began to stream in.
Keeping in mind that the restaurant was down to the equivalent of two servers and two cooks, including the manager, one with any amount of common sense would temper back expectations that the same service you would expect with a full staff of customers would now be considerably less than that. It’s difficult to make tough decisions quickly, as she had to do, in the midst of two successive power outages. The staff that remained there was actually doing a fantastic job. They were all hustling. Was everything perfect? Of course not. Did their hustle make up for it? Absolutely.
I mention all of this because there was a couple sitting nearby that was upset with the lack of service and attention that they had received. The waitress apologized and offered to have something done once they received their meal and finished their dinner. After they received their food, they picked through it and then made their way to the register, coupon in hand, and quietly unloaded on the manager of their complete dissatisfaction with the service, and an expectation that something needed to be done about it. After making a futile effort to apologize for the service and inconvenience over the power outages and the skeleton crew that remained, she comped their meal. They left, getting what they wanted…a free meal.
It is one thing to expect great service under normal working conditions, and it is another to use a situation like this one to take advantage and get a free meal out of it. That is disingenuous and, frankly, dishonest. The entire episode that I witnessed made me very angry. I made it a point to tell the manager, who was visibly upset by the couple’s allegations, that she and her staff were doing a great job. Let’s give credit where credit is due and be considerate of those who are really making an effort to do great work. Isn’t that what we would want for ourselves, especially when we are going through a difficult time? “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them” (Luke 6:31).