Please and Thank Who?

Hannah - Lexington, Kentucky
Entered on December 9, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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“Have you all eaten with us before?” I asked as I sat the couple at table 13. I assumed it was an acceptable choice for them since they had not mentioned to me otherwise at the host stand.

“Umm, I’m not going to stay here if I don’t get a booth,” the lady snarled as I finished laying out their menus and silverware. “I just hate sitting out in the open like this, don’t you honey? And these chairs are so uncomfortable. So we’ll definitely be needing a booth.”

Without showing my anger, I pick up the menus and silverware and asked the couple to wait in the waiting area so I could see if a booth would be available for them to sit in.

“We do have one booth available right now, but it is being held for a reservation. I’d be happy to put your name down to wait for one.”

“Well when will the next booth be getting up? We don’t have all afternoon to sit around and wait for a booth!” the lady questioned as her poor husband stood there appearing to be very embarrassed.

“Ma’am I’m not sure when someone will be getting up next, but I’ll let you know as soon as they do,” I replied as politely as I could given the circumstance.

Not a day goes by at work that I don’t have people acting childish over where I seat them. Or the lighting, temperature, music, or the people sitting within ten feet of them—all things of which I have no control. I host at a very respectable and higher-quality restaurant, yet the manners and behavior of our customers often times mimics that seen in restaurants of much lower quality. My mother’s goal in raising my sister and I was to make sure we grew up practicing good manners. When we bumped into

someone, we knew to say “pardon me”. When we were finished at the dinner table, we knew to say “may I be excused?”. When we wanted something we knew to say “please” and when we received it we knew to say “thank you”. After working in a restaurant for over a year, I wonder where all the manners and respect have gone. I believe having good manners will take one far in life. Therefore my belief is simple—I believe in the power of manners.

Everyone has the ability to be friendly and courteous to those who serve them. Although it is easy and tempting to be just as hateful back to those impolite folk, I practice the “Golden Rule” (treat others how you would want to be treated) instead. I believe manners are an easy way to show respect to people, thus why I find them so important. Because I want to be treated politely, I treat each of our customers with respect, even if they don’t show it. My blood begins to boil when someone is rude, but I bite my tongue, keep a smile on my face, and say my “yes ma’am’s” and “yes sir’s”. Patience is key when using the “Golden Rule” because not everyone will reciprocate the rule. If everyone started practicing the “Golden Rule”, I don’t think there would be as much animosity in the world.

When I go home at night from work, I think about the people I encountered during that shift. Usually, I spend the rest of the night telling my family about the ungrateful and short-tempered people I dealt with that day. However, I actually enjoy my job when someone shows me that they appreciate me. I’m sure most people would agree that when people show appreciation toward them, their jobs become a little bit better to do. Even a short conversation with someone will brighten my day and make me look forward to going into work next time. One night, a man came in and told me he had a reservation. After I sat him and he finished his meal, he came back to the host stand before leaving. We ended up talking for twenty minutes until he had to leave. A couple of months later, the same man came in to eat. I addressed him by his name when I recognized him and he was immediately blown away. After I took him and the rest of his party to their table, he pulled me aside and told me how appreciative he was that I remembered his name. He went on to say that never in any other restaurant has someone he only met

once remembered his name. Along with telling me how impressed he was, he payed me five dollars. I think about how gracious he was, but I’ve never encountered anyone like him since. However, I continue to work at the restaurant because the small amount of people, including the man I spoke to, who have good manners and show appreciation toward me make my job worth while.

I have worked several different types of jobs, all which have involved customer service. But I have found that working in a restaurant does the best job of teaching people skills and manners than any other place I’ve worked. Most people have gone out to eat at some point in their lives, so when one works in a restaurant, they fully understand the hard work and effort that goes into serving people. I didn’t think a host’s job was difficult until I became one. I am in charge of making sure a server doesn’t get sat more often than someone else, reservations, the wait list, answering the phone, keeping the waiting area and restrooms picked up, and making sure a table is clean before it is sat. Now when I go into a restaurant, I let the host take me wherever they need me to go because I understand they have a system that needs to be followed. A lot of effort goes into running a restaurant and I believe most people need to work in one so they can realize that.

Although my argument seems pretty cynical, I’m not here to preach. Having good manners is a skill that will be used for a lifetime and I think it is important to practice them each day. Even though my sister and I are no longer children, we still get compliments about how polite we were as kids. No matter the situation, good manners will always be appreciated. When in an interview for the job of a lifetime, refer to the interviewer as “sir” or “ma’am”. When the car on the left has had their blinker on for a minute because everyone else is in such a hurry, let them into the lane. When the server looks like they are swamped (probably because they really are), tip them a few extra bucks. Above all, remember to practice the “Golden Rule”. Work colleagues, professors, cashiers, and servers alike will appreciate the respect. Show someone appreciation for their hard work today—I promise it will make someone’s day just a little bit better.