This I Believe

Brenda - Indianola, Iowa
Entered on September 4, 2007

I believe that first impressions can be misleading.

It was my second night as a server at an Italian restaurant in Des Moines. It was almost 9:00pm when I was told that I had a “one-top” waiting for me. As I approached the table, there sat an older man, probably around the age of 80, with a scowl on his face. I greeted him with a smile and introduced myself. He acknowledged me with an unaccepting nod and then ordered me to bring him a glass of wine.

My first impression of this man was either he didn’t care for me, he was having a bad day, or he was just a terribly unhappy individual. I brought him his wine and proceeded to take his order.

As he was telling me that he wanted soup another server, Aly, must have recognized him. She asked him if he wanted his usual grilled cheese on wheat bread with his soup. His response was “Yes, cheese on dark bread.” I asked him if he wanted his soup with his sandwich or before. “Before.”

I told Aly that I thought he was in a really bad mood and that he was a very rude man. She replied “Oh, no he’s not! He comes in here all of the time. He’s actually really nice.” I honestly couldn’t see what she was talking about, but I thought I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.

I put the order in and left the kitchen to check on my tables. As I was walking by the older man’s table, he asked me if I was the one waiting on him. I said yes. He then demanded “I want my soup, NOW!”

I was quite startled but I hurried to the kitchen to tell the chef that I needed the soup right away. I took the soup to him and he said that he wanted his check because he wasn’t going to order anything else. I got his bill and took it to the table.

As I was on my way back to the kitchen to get his sandwich, I saw him get up and leave the table. I assumed he was just going to use the restroom. I brought out the grilled cheese a few minutes later and he still hadn’t returned.

It had been 10 minutes. I was confused so I told Aly that he’d walked out without eating his sandwich and he’d already paid. Aly shook her head and a look of sadness came across her face. She said that she had went back to his table to check on him and asked him if he’d gotten his sandwich. He simply answered, “Well, I don’t remember, but I think so.”

That’s the moment I realized that first impressions can be misleading. All along I had thought he was a bitter man. Wow, I was wrong. One thing I learned is that I will always be light to judge others and know that first impressions can be misleading.