Here’s a quick little story I wanted to share about what that happened to me yesterday while I was working at the restaurant.
It was around 5:00pm and I was just about to take on a large birthday party of 14 when two people showed up at the door to be seated. They asked if they could actually just get two take away coffees, triple cream. I told them of course and had them take a seat in our waiting chairs as I prepared them. My host said they were on the house and as I approached them with the coffees to let them know it was free, they told me they were also looking for a dessert menu. At Riverside we don’t have a dessert menu but I gladly let them know that we had tiramisu, banana toffee cake or chocolate raspberry mousse cake. After I was finished listing the dessert options the man took a moment before making a decision to tell me that I was very cheery and upbeat… very bright. I’ve been told this before but it seemed like he was almost in awe, almost like he was seeing something unfamiliar to the world.
They went for the chocolate raspberry… but that’s not what’s important here.
While preparing their dessert my host found out that the large party had gotten smaller and she now had a table for the two having the dessert. She gave another server the party to take care of and then I would go and serve the two their dessert at a table. When I brought them the dessert I let them know that I was Cara and I would be looking after them for the rest of their time at the restaurant. The man took my hand and shook it and just held it for a moment with his other hand on top while he introduced himself to me. An unusual encounter if you have ever waitressed before. Most people introduce themselves back as a joke… but this encounter was real. I couldn’t help but feel like it meant something. I walked away feeling warm inside.
I came back a few minutes later to ask if they were enjoying the cake and he said something that stuck with me.. “well yes the cake is fine but that’s not what’s important here, is it?”. And I said “Oh, well what is then?” and he smiled and replied “It’s nice to meet you”.
That hit home for me because that’s exactly the genuine type of encounter that I wish that I could have everyday with people. At the end of the day how the cake tastes really doesn’t matter or how the food is tasting is nothing but a outer shell way to make conversation about something insignificant to the larger scheme of things. The most important thing at the restaurant at that moment was three people meeting for the first time… making a new human connection.
After walking away from the table I had this strong inclination to be share my contact information with these two. I thought about it for a few moments, hesitated a little and then I got a business card and wrote down my name and blog website. When I brought it to the table they said thank you and they asked what my blog was about, so I told them and then the most beautiful thing happened… they stood up and they gave me a hug.
Yep.. that’s right two strangers who stopped in for a quick coffee and dessert were giving me a hug within 20 minutes of meeting me. Soon after I had cleared their plates the woman came up to pay and she said “thank you very much Cara and I hope that someday our path’s will cross again”.
This experience was not something I expected to happen in my day. It was beautiful, it was genuine, it was refreshing. These two were extremely inspiring to me just by being them. I felt like they were the outer representation of everything I feel inside but I am too scared to show to a world that is so rigid. If I had my way I would be taking the time to genuinely get to know each and everyone of the people that I serve at the restaurant… but that’s not what people want to do. They want to know what dish is going to taste the best and how many sticks of garlic bread they get in an order. This doesn’t sound too sad when it’s in a restaurant setting but the truth is, it happens more than in a restaurant setting, it happens everywhere. People don’t want genuine encounters they want quick and to the point so they can get on with the conversation they never cease to have within their own heads.
Maybe you might see this encounter of mine as not so special. But describing what happened is never going to come close to how I felt inside that day. The warmth, the feeling of relating to a human on our most basic level was something so very rare that it touched me. I always try to pull the beauty out of encounters and highlight what I find so profound about them. There is something very powerful about hugging that we’ve replaced with shaking hands. It sounds weird to say but I believe we all like to be hugged by everyone, that it says so much more than a hand shake, its so much more deeper than that. If you clear the smokey haze of formality, pride and ego, nothing else but a hug makes sense.
I think as humanity we need to take more time to listen, to refocus on the big things in life. Next time you find yourself treating someone with disinterest, take a second to pull yourself away from your own loud mind and just listen. Be human. Ask how they are and if you really show an interest in listening, you will get the privilege to get to know them for their soul.
Anyways that’s my little story of the day. I just wanted to spotlight these two and our genuine encounter, even though I know I will never forget them.
Hug lots, listen often and just be genuine.
Until next time,