We had received a gift card to an Italian restaurant we had never been to before and were using it after a doctor appointment one afternoon. Moe was slightly shorter than average, but a dark-haired, good looking young man, probably working his way through college, it being a college town. We enjoyed our meal and Moe served us well. Our first course came lickety-split and when the second took a little bit longer, he stopped to tell us we were “next” and to see if we needed anything else while we waited—like another loaf of warm bread, an offer we were happy to take him up on. All through the meal he checked on our progress, on whether we were happy or not, and whether things were prepared to our liking.
When we had finished and were sated enough to turn down dessert, he stood another moment and said, “Is there anything else I can get you?” Then a half second later, “I really mean that. You are the kindest table I have waited on all day and I would do anything in the world for you.”
I had noticed that the booth behind Keith had called him over half a dozen times, and another table had sent something back. No one raised a voice, but evidently their words and manner showed they might as well have.
And us? We didn’t really think about what we were doing or how we were acting. We were just—us. Maybe it’s that we learned a long time ago that people in the service industry are often mistreated and verbally abused, made to pay for someone else’s failures—in this case, maybe the chef’s—and treated just like furniture as far as any personal interaction goes. Maybe I learned it from my daddy—he always called people he dealt with by their names, and waiters and waitresses, car salesmen and mechanics all remembered him.
But Moe’s words of gratitude have made me actually think about what I am doing and saying, trying to be even kinder than usual, and maybe even developing a short—but sweet—relationship with those people. Isn’t that the way Christians are supposed to treat those who serve them?
Masters, treat your servants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven…and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. Col 4:1; Eph 6:9
Why shouldn’t those passages apply to how we treat waiters and waitresses, plumbers and mechanics, cashiers and pizza delivery guys? These people serve us as part of their daily work, and we can make or break their reputations with their bosses and even cost them their jobs. We can also brighten their day if we treat them as we ought to, and who knows, maybe someday we can help bring them to Christ.
My boys have worked in service industries over summer semesters. Even all these years later they can tell you stories about certain customers. Do you really think it is Christlike to be a customer remembered for his sour disposition and rude words over twenty years later?
Did you go out to eat yesterday? How would your server remember you? If you walked in again today, how would he feel? How does your cashier at the grocery store greet you? Does she ignore you unless you go through her line, or does she smile and wave when she sees you walk through the door?
So thank you, Moe, for reminding me that we are supposed to be reflections of our Lord to everyone. Thank you for reminding me that my actions and attitudes can glorify or shame Him.
You shall not rule over [your servants] ruthlessly but shall fear your God. Lev 25:43