Gritty eyes from lack of sleep. Stressed with a headful of somber thoughts. “Coffee…. biscuits and gravy, that’s all,” he quickly said to the young waitress. A minute later, coffee. Several more minutes, fresh-from-the-oven biscuits. She served quietly and quickly, always with a smile. As he finished his second cup, he felt an overwhelming urge to speak to her, sharing his appreciation for her kindness.
“I need to tell you something,” he said. “You never know who you’ll be serving, do you? You probably thought I was just a guy getting his own breakfast before his wife gets up. What you got… was a tired leader, hurting with the knowledge that a favorite former work colleagues was dying last night. I needed a calm, quiet place to get my head straight before starting the rest of my day. What I got, was polite and cheerful smiling service, just often enough to ensure my coffee needs were met, no coffee drips on the table from refills, super-fast service with one of my comfort foods. Thank you so much for serving me in that way. It meant a lot to me. Thank you.”
She started to tear up and told him that yesterday had been a very hard day on the job and that she really needed to hear that right then. She leaned over and gave him a tight hug, right there at his table. He was shocked into silence. He left a very large tip.
Halfway home, something suddenly hit him. “God, you totally set me up! I went in there for my own selfish reasons. And you set me up to give someone an encouraging word at just the right time. And I didn’t even ask for it. Thanks for using me, even when I wasn’t in a listening mood!”
Kindness is usually free. It can be simply the words we use. Or it could be the facial expression or touch we use when interacting with others. In the workplace, it is common to think that kindness is not necessary. Coworkers shouldn’t need appreciation for just doing their job, should they? I shouldn’t need to express kindness or concern for colleagues, should I? It’s not professional to mix work and personal, is it?
Gallup, the renowned polling organization, asks for a response to the following statement when polling employees for job satisfaction: In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work. Apparently they view it as a crucial issue!
Who should receive kindness from me? A stressed employee, an overworked boss, a thoughtful wife, a caring parent, a struggling child, a committed pastor. Oh, yeah, and a grouchy patient, an impatient customer, a rude friend….
And yes, a waitress. I should know. Those were my biscuits… just this morning.