Good manners. Whether they were drilled into us, cajoled into us or we were simply following the examples lived by our parents, at some point in most of our lives, the concept of civility survived and thrived in our interactions with others. For the most part it’s all good. However, there are always a few bad apples in the bunch that tend to give the others a bad name.
This thought came to mind as I was eating some peanuts leftover from a certain restaurant that I frequent. I won’t mention the name, but this eatery is known for its good food, relaxing atmosphere, and allowing its patrons to toss peanut shells on the floor. You can also take a bag of the peanuts home to enjoy later, hence the ones I’m crunching on now.
But back to the story. I had called in a to-go order and the person on the phone said it would take about 15 to 20 minutes for my order to be ready. I was already near their location, so I decided to sit in my car and play with my phone to pass the time. A white SUV pulled up alongside of me and a couple got out with a little girl who appeared to be around three or four years old. She yelled hello in an effort to get my attention from the phone. I looked up and she was beaming as she told me they were going to eat. I said I was waiting on a to-go order, partly to make conversation, and partly to let her parents know I wasn’t some suspicious character in the habit of lurking around the parking lots of diners.
About two minutes later this same family came speed-walking back to their vehicle as if they couldn’t get away from the place fast enough. The dad was carrying the little girl whose smile was gone as she told me they were not going to eat. I asked the parents if everything was okay, to which the father replied, “Those heifers didn’t even look up, let alone greet us.” I expressed that I was sorry they’d had to put up with such rude behavior. They said they would not spend their money at a place where someone couldn’t spare two seconds for a quick hello or welcome.
So I walked in, truthfully but, as it turned out, naively thinking it wouldn’t happen twice in a row. Sure enough I walked in, and there were four young ladies at the counter with their backs to the door, whispering and giggling. Now I’ve worked in plenty of restaurants, and it is grueling work. So I don’t blame the hostesses (who appeared to be in their late teens/early 20’s) for taking a moment to laugh. My concern was that quite a few moments passed with no one acknowledging me at all.
Finally a manager came out and asked had I been helped. I said that not only had I not been helped, but that I hadn’t even been greeted. Furthermore, I told her that I know of at least one family they’d lost as customers for the same reason. After she made sure I had my order, she told the girls that they would have to do a better job greeting the guests. She reprimanded them in a quiet, professional tone and told them she didn’t need to hear any excuses, just needed them to do better. They cast shy glances and thanked me for coming as I made my way towards the exit. I felt better and will continue to eat there. They are young, and we’ve all been in the same situation. Hopefully this was their first adult lesson that old-fashioned good manners still go a long way. I thank you.