December 10, 2014

The Waitress, The Customer and the Tip

Juliet is a waitress in a fine restaurant. She has been working there for more than a year now and somehow, she likes her work. It is better than most of what she has done already. And though her salary is small compared with the big load of work, the tip is something she looks forward to.
Just like other restaurants, Juliet’s workplace is busy during the weekends. It is a favorite of those who go out for the family day. Unlike some of her co-workers, Juliet loves weekends. Weekends mean more diners and more diners mean more tip.
One Sunday, the restaurant is unusually full. And as is natural to a place full of people, tempers are high and heads are hot and Juliet, as a mere worker, is one of the victims of flaring tempers and smoking ears. But Juliet took everything with her usual coolness and level head.
Her focus was on the work at hand. She disregarded unpleasant comments from both superiors and customers. She took and served orders, cleaned tables, made diners comfortable and apologized for mistakes she did not commit but blamed on her anyway.
She did not mind the aches in her legs and hips. She took no notice of the pain in her back. All she thought about was the tip she would receive that would be an addition to the money she was saving so she could enroll next semester.
But even the thought of the tip could not take away the fatigue that was beginning to overpower Juliet. Her head was starting to spin, her legs were getting wobbly and her eyes were getting blurry. She was taking a tray with a bowl of soup to an old woman  when her legs gave in and she fell on the floor. The hot soup spilled all over her while the tray fell on the head of the diner on the table next to the old woman’s.
Before she could even stand up, the restaurant manager materialized beside her and berated her for being so careless. The customer stood up and gave the manager a piece of her mind for the incompetent waitress. The manager apologized to the customer and went back to scolding Juliet.
Juliet could not move. The entire restaurant seems to be closing in on her and she felt like she was being swallowed whole. Then, she heard a kind but firm voice..
“Are you hurt, my child?”
It was the old woman. She got up from her chair and she was the only one who noticed how pale Juliet was.
“I think so..” Juliet answered.
The old woman pointed at the manager and said..
“Hey, you! Can’t you see that this child is hurt? She fell on the floor and my soup is all over her.  Go get a first aid kit..”
The restaurant manager fell silent. He looked at Juliet and saw what the old woman meant. Only then did he realize that he had a hurt employee.
Then the old woman turned to the hurt customer..
“And you.. you knew this child didn’t mean it. And it was just a plastic tray, that couldn’t hurt that bad. So, stop your nagging, it doesn’t help anyone…”
Then, the old woman went back to Juliet who started to feel the pain all over her body.
“You must sit on the chair..” the old woman said while helping Juliet up from the floor and down to the chair beside her.
The old woman began to wipe the soup from Juliet’s arms and hands. She got the glass of water from the table and offered it to the waitress. Then, she took the unopened burger and put it on Juliet’s hand and spoke..
“I don’t have any money for the tip. But here is my burger, eat it. You look hungry and tired you, need some rest..”
Juliet looked at the old woman’s kind eyes. She saw sincere compassion she had never seen in any customer before. She took the burger and thanked the old woman for the biggest tip she had ever received in the restaurant, a burger wrapped in kindness.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, were purely incidental.)

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