Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Golden attitude

Mount Pico as seen from Horta, Portugal 10-27-14

There are those days one wishes to hide from the world but a job commands their appearance. It’s better for all if the rest of us understand those days. Photo of Mount Pico as seen from Horta, Portugal. (© 2014 by Steve Martaindale)

A story hit the news this week. A couple purchased a to-go order at an IHOP restaurant. On their receipt, in the space where the employee would place a name to make sure the right order went out the door with the right customer, they found “black ppl.” That is, he identified them by only their race.

It’s clear, this is not the way people are supposed to identify other people these days. While some will dismiss it as merely political correctness (a catchphrase meaning “something I don’t want to have to bother myself with merely to elevate a lower person to my level), it’s actually just common courtesy.

Worth noting, as well, is that the offending employee was also black. The customers seemed to find that an additional irritant. Another source shared the employee’s Facebook apology, which was incredibly well-executed. He knew his conduct was improper, he said, but he got caught up during a rush at work and slipped up.

And that’s more to my point.

The day after this offense happened (and before it made the news cycles), Leah and I were in, believe it or not, an IHOP restaurant. We were having a late breakfast because of some routine medical tests that required fasting.

Apparently, what we considered a late breakfast that morning was when everyone else wanted to eat. We had to wait several minutes, behind three or four other parties, before an employee was able to seat us. The woman who was seating folks was obviously harried, moving back and forth to take names of new arrivals and seat people as she could.

My wife, who has acquired some experience in dining room jobs over our last three summers of working around the country, observed to me that the woman wasn’t doing her job very well. She could have interacted with customers better, given a little more information and, most of all, simply been more personable. However, Leah said, it was obviously a byproduct of them being extra busy.

Once seated, our extra friendly waitress agreed that they were busier than normal for this time of day and then added that someone didn’t show up for work, which made everything a little more stressful.

The lesson: If you haven’t worked a particular job, you probably have no idea what all is involved with it.

That’s true on just about every level. What jobs have you performed? Did people actually understand what you did? Did they wonder why you did things a certain way, maybe even something that seemed to them to make no sense whatsoever? Did they think they could do your job better even though you knew they had absolutely no idea what was going on?

It’s true, isn’t it?

While it’s not easy, I wish we could all remember that whenever an employee doesn’t do things the way we think he or she should. We probably do not know why it must be done that way.

Secondly, it’s good to keep in mind that any person could be going through one of the worst days of his or her year. Sure, the fact his girlfriend broke up with him last night shouldn’t affect how well he does his job, but it’s understandable.

Sum it up: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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