I have a gruff 72 year old customer that is quite direct and demanding and I like her. Most of the staff doesn’t appreciate her as much as I do. They prefer people who politely smile and respond in sweetness to the sweetness of questions asked, and food offered. People who just get ‘normal’ stuff and are ‘easy’ to deal with. I find her delightful and yes, insistent.
Last week, she told me that she is now 72 years old, and it’s about time she starts getting things the way she wants them in life.
I like that. I respect that. I want to be like her, more often.
Like I said though, her style isn’t as pedestrian and mild as most of the fine folks who visit our restaurant. Are they getting what they want out of life? Are they getting what they want from us? I suppose most of them are, they continue to come back, week after week. I truly hope they are happy; that is the #1 reason we are there. To serve people well, to delight them, and provide a quality experience of real food and friendly hospitality.
So which way works best? Do we need to demand and push, or can we sit back and hope it all works out, so we don’t have to say anything? As long as things are going good, it is fine to keep peace, and just hold our tongues. But what about when it’s not going good. What about when we want something to be different than it is, or we want to create an outcome, instead of just passively letting it happen?
Today, on my 35th(!) birthday, I want to send myself the message and note from our friend, The Frogleg Lady. She has a great heart, a great sense of humor, and she is asking for what she wants in life. Not just thinking about it, but asking. She is fair, she is logical, she doesn’t express desires that are outlandish or crazy. She is however, looking you right in the eye, and telling you what she wants, and asking if you will do it, or not.
Her question forces me to answer, on the spot. Sometimes, I can say yes, sometimes I have to say no. Either way, I must come clean, and provide resolution, for her, for me.
I’m not as effective of a question asker as she is. I still wallow in my self-pity, after being passive-aggressive, and making ‘funny’ comments instead of really saying what is on my mind. I know that I am conversing in a less mature, a less collected habit of being. I manage people, I manage business, I manage myself, and yet, I have so much to learn.
I do sort of even like, that my friend’s demeanor, doesn’t sit well with all of our staff. We aren’t used everyone being as confident and sure-footed in themselves as she is. I think when we see the opportunity to please someone who is quite particular, we have really done something great. The simple fact that this customer would return, again and again, says a lot. We must have done some things right, in her eyes.
I’m less than half her age today. I usually feel less than half-way developed, in my personal growth, my patience and measured self-responsibility. I have so far to go. I appreciate, that I have made some personal choices and created something unique, here in the last few years. I am not totally discounting the efforts I have put in. I have even been surprised lately, by a few comments from people, saying in effect, ‘that I am much better at keeping calm, and steady, than I used to be.’
I hope I haven’t been trading my true desires, for the desire to ‘not rock the boat.’
We’ll see if this new year, being 35 really changes much for me. Most likely it won’t, I will however, try to remember my friend, from time to time. I want to be like her. I want to truly know that ‘It is okay, to really ask for what you want in life, right now, under these exact circumstances. ‘
I don’t want to wait until I’m 72, to do it, however. I doubt that she waited that long either. When she is really grilling me, with that glint in her eye, I’m sure she didn’t.
It’s Friday, and it’s my birthday, I’d better get going, I’ve got some grilling to do 😉
‘Your greatest regrets will always be sourced from the times in which you held back.’
– Dusan Djukich