I was struggling to decide where to eat dinner tonight; sometimes that’s a hard decision for me. I settled on one of my usual spots near my apartment and I’ll spare you the probably-pathological decision tree that I used to determine where to go.
I parked the car and walked in, but not without being chased through the parking lot in the rain by a homeless man who despite my obvious attempts to avoid his gaze pursued me for the non-existent spare change he hoped I had.
Once I entered the restaurant, I walked to the host stand and stood waiting to be greeted and seated. Three minutes later – and the girl on the back line working drive thru looked up at me repeatedly without smiling or acknowledging my presence. The girl collecting money at the drive-thru also saw me and put her head back down and the TWO managers seated in the office continued having a conversation despite the fact that not one person in their store had even greeted me yet.
When the poor young woman came out of the back finally and asked “Has anyone helped you yet?” she was put on full-blast. I feel bad that she was the one to receive my negative energy but I said, “No, and who do you think it would have been that would have helped me? You didn’t acknowledge me until now and no one else seems to care either. I’m not staying now but I did need to just make sure I wasn’t dead or invisible so I waited until SOMEONE in this place talked to me! I’m so disappointed; I eat here in the drive-thru almost every morning and I support this store with a lot of money. This is embarrassing!” I ranted all the way to the car.
I found the phone number to customer service and that poor woman . . . she was so patient and kind and understanding. I calmed down knowing that I had been heard. Someone cared, at least.
And then I began to draft this post, hoping to tell you a story about me being ignored – one of my go-to pet peeves when I teach helpers how to treat others. I was going to rail against poor customer service! I was going to use it as a teaching moment for all of you about how to treat others.
And as soon as I wrote the paragraph about the homeless man – who in my anger and disgust I’d almost forgot – I felt the hot poker of guilt stabbing me in the stomach. I almost closed my laptop and said forget it. But I’m willing to share my failings with you if it helps us both.
Why does the homeless man deserve less than I do? Why should he not have eye contact, human connection? Why shouldn’t someone at least let him know they care? I didn’t need anyone at Frisch’s to wait on me. I needed one of them to acknowledge me. . .to make me feel like I mattered.
How can I expect that if I’m not willing to do the same?