Listen to yourself, man.

Two-part rant today, because I think it’s particularly important that everyone hear both parts.

PART I: Learn something new.

I know, I know. …Um, what? What does this have to do with restaurant gripes?

Everything.

This is what we in the restaurant industry do pretty much every shift. We learn something new. Granted, it’s usually something we immediately regret learning because it forever taints our worldview, but we learn.

This tidbit of advice also pertains to something else: Languages.

I know. Now you’re REALLY confused. What the heck does language have to do with anything restaurant-related??

Ask that of a Deaf person trying to enjoy a meal out.

As an avid signer and advocate of the Deaf community, I am adamant when it comes to being respectful of Deaf customers. And I don’t think I’m off base. I’ve said it before– I don’t care who you are or what kind of a day you’re having, EVERYONE deserves respect.

Let me offer an example.

Last night was an especially slow night. Those are the best because I can actually walk around and chat with customers. Well, towards the end of the evening, two girls came in, one signing and one wearing dark glasses and holding a white cane. The girl with the cane kept her hands over the other girl’s hands while the latter was signing. Immediately I realized that while the girl signing was Deaf, the girl with the cane was both Deaf and blind.

I offered them a table and the Deaf girl asked if they could have a table where they could sit next to each other, so they could talk. Luckily, I understood that she was telling me the only way they could do this was if the Deaf/blind girl (Nadia, as I later learned) could keep her hands on her friend’s.

Of course, I sat them at a table where they could do so.

I started taking their orders and we had a nice conversation about where I learned to sign, what they were doing in the city, drag kings (what?), and the fact that it was refreshing for them to have someone who actually interacted with them at their table. They told me that normally when they go out to eat, servers are incredibly rude to them because they’re Deaf. They told me that they wished people would realize that being Deaf doesn’t make them sub-human (just like, gasp!, being a server doesn’t make us the same). Having had many Deaf friends, I knew where they were coming from, although it’s hard for me to imagine anyone being rude to a Deaf person, considering their culture is so rich and intricate.

Since I’m the only staff member in the restaurant who signs, I usually tell the servers that I’m happy to take orders, answer questions, etc. if it makes it easier for them. Typically, though, I’m shocked at the response I get: “Oh my gosh, yes. Deaf people are so annoying.”

Whoa whoa WHOA. Miss Lippy. What I don’t understand is how someone can call a natural trait annoying? It’s not like they’re being Deaf to annoy you…?? I think we need to draw a clear distinction between ‘annoying’ qualities (e.g. Repeatedly changing an order, hovering over the hostess stand, demanding items one and a time, etc.) and uncontrollable features.

I can’t believe this has to actually come up in a post, but apparently it’s not as evident as I’d imagined.

Anyway, I’m going to save the “learn sign language” rant for later in the interest of time. But know that it’s important to learn something about other cultures. And it’s best when its done intentionally. We’ve all seen what happens when you just sort of “run into” other world views– NOT always pretty.

You might even learn something you never thought was possible.

PART II: Perspective.

About 20 minutes after the girls left, I was up at the host stand managing the seating charts. My manager was behind me checking on a table, when suddenly I heard the most annoying (no, seriously, annoying) voice of possibly my entire life. It sounded something like a mixture between Napoleon Dynamite and a cat in heat. But more nauseating.

The conversation, briefly, went a little something like this:

Kid: “When I called you said it would be FIFTEEN MINUTES and then when I got here I waited ANOTHER FIFTEEN MINUTES until my food came out!”

Manager: “I’m really sorry, sir, but your food was ready before you got here and by the time you came in, the fries were cold. I kept the food under the heat lamp so it would stay hot for you, but the fries weren’t up to our standards so I had them make a fresh batch for you. And you were only waiting five minutes. I saw you when you came in.”

Kid [checking iPhone and then waving it around frantically]: “I WAITED FIFTEEN MINUTES! LOOK! I CALLED AT 2032 AND GOT HERE AT 2056 AND MY FOOD JUST GOT HERE!!!”

Manager: “Sir, I’m trying to explain that I just wanted the food to be the best quality for you since it was ready earlier than expected.”

Kid continues to scream at my manager –in the MIDDLE of the restaurant, no less– about how she never even apologized (which she did) … mainly because he’d run out of things to yell about. He said he was going to write a letter to corporate (ooooh scary— we’re all BEST FRIENDS with “corporate” you idiot. Plus, I was standing right there and heard the whole stupid thing) and she would be punished for this atrocity.

Finally, she just said, “Thank you, sir, have a good night” and walked away.

This is what wanted to say to him:

“Sir, let’s take a walk. I want to introduce you to my friend Nadia, who is Deaf AND blind and who has a better attitude than anyone that’s ever come into the restaurant. She’s had to live her entire life without the ability to see OR hear (luckily for her, in this case, since your voice could probably make ANYone go Deaf) and yet she’s making it through with nothing but smiles and perseverance. You, my friend, are ungrateful.”

Of course, I have to be polite in these settings.

So I just ignored him as he left.

But I WILL leave you all with a little piece of advice: “Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.”

This is a lesson all of us, including me, but most especially THAT kid, need to learn if we are ever going to make the most of our time here.

I rant because I can’t understand why people just can’t get along. But I also realize that my rants contribute to that discord and that I have the power to effect positive change, too.

Learn something about someone else today.

More importantly, learn something about yourself.

 

 

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