Be Nice at Waffle House

September 23, 2010

Just about every Thursday morning, I can be found having breakfast at the Waffle House restaurant that’s pretty near our home–it’s about a mile away. My dayghter Anne and I go there, or meet there, and this is a part of a long-standing tradition that dates back to when Anne was about 4, and Kathryn was about 2. (My wife pointed out that the girls were growing and changing, and FAST, and that I was working such long hours, I was missing much of their lives. Anne had recently announced at another dinner that I missed, “Mom, I feel like Dad isn’t part of the family anymore.”) So I started spending time with the girls, one-on-one. Most of the time it has been breakfast, some seasons it becomes lunch.

So today Anne and I met there, as I had an early Doctor’s appointment, and I had to go in fasting. I called from the Doc’s office, and headed to meet Anne.

When I walked into Waffle House, Rhonda, the same server that takes great care of us every week, started working me over in a playful way–you know, the “Kinda late today, aren’t you?” and “Is the Princess joining you” kind of comments.

Rhonda’s great–as Anne said, “she’s so small, but has such a big personality.”

That’s when I noticed the guy slide into the next booth, and immediately start yammering away, notstop, and loudly, on his cell phone. Never getting off the phone, he gestured that he wanted coffee, then asked Rhonda to remove the cream cups he emptied, and bring more, then gestured that he was ready to order, and kept mouthing away–in a foreign language–on his cell phone. I was close to telling him to take it outside when Anne came in, and I chose not to create a scene. Anne’s eyes bugged out as he talked, I pointed out that he’d been damn rude to Rhonda, which got Anne’s dander up. Rhonda refilled his coffee, walked past our table, and I suggested that she spill it on him.

That’s when she kindly said, “You can send your food back. That’s OK. Sometimes things happen. But it’s ALL in how you say it. Trust me, you don’t want to eat in a restaurant where the food is prepared behind a closed door.” (Which Waffle House is not, by the way.)

It’s all in how you treat people, folks. I’ve been on the phone today three times with three different people at two different insurance companies, I’ve had my annual physical (you do NOT want to tell the lady drawing blood to “hurry it up;” that’s when she reaches for the blunt needle), and talked to an oral surgeon’s office twice. And let me tell you. Even when you’re mad, upset, or bent out of shape, you still can choose to be nice. Treat people kindly, with respect, call them by name whenever you can, and trust me–they will return with the same.

And be particularly nice to the weekday morning shift at “my” Waffle House.  You mess with them, you mess with family. And in my family, we take care of each other.