My entire household is a bit on the homebody side, preferring to binge-watch and relax in our living room than venture out to something outside the house. Although we branch out to our yard and the occasional play parks during the warmer months, the winter sees my family and I essentially turn into hibernating bears. This is why my wife and I try to make a strong point to take the boys out of the house to do something fun on the weekends. This lets us all get a bit of fresh air, leave the seclusion of our little nest and interact with the outside world. It also gets us some much-needed vitamin D.
This week, we decided to visit the Science museum. Both boys enjoy it, as it boasts several attractions including live animals, science experiments and even play structures that they can play on. The totality of the location makes it an ideal place to go spend a few hours on an afternoon where none of us are at school or work. On this occasion, we went to the museum last Monday, which was a stat holiday for me and Nathan still hadn’t gone back to school. It was a perfect way for me to wrap up my vacation time. We bought a 1-year family membership, which allows us to attend the museum as often as we want. Considering the cost of admission for a “per-visit” entry, we would only need to use the membership two or three times to make up our money.
Once the boys had played themselves out and mealtime was fast approaching, I decided I wanted to take the family out to a restaurant for dinner, since I would be back to the routine of a bagged lunch and supper at home starting the following day. Going out to eat is a bit of a mixed bag for me. Setting aside that the rising prices of everything continues to make it more and more difficult to justify eating out when one could simply make a meal at home. Plus, one usually needs to set aside their wonder about how the food is prepared, how clean everything and when it comes to an actual sit-down restaurant, the concept of tipping becomes an issue as well. (Just an FYI, I do provides tips, so let’s not have THAT argument here…)
I also have issue with how some folks choose to interact with paying customers. Although I consider myself a very tolerant person, I’m not always a patient one and this can often lead to unpleasant situations if I receive poor service. Having worked in the service industry myself in the past, I understand the pressures that can be associated with working as a restaurant server for long hours on end. So I usually approach my restaurant visits with a touch of cautious optimism. Like a teetering scale, it can often go either way. On this occasion, our waitress was quite nice and polite and answered all of our questions before getting our drinks and allowing us some time with the menus.
Since my children are quite particular about what they eat, we usually have to meet them in the middle with individual meals that suit their preferences but are similar enough that one won’t fight for the other one’s meal. In this instance, we ordered Nathan mini cheeseburgers with ketchup and fries and Alexander got the same but in hamburger form, since he won’t eat cheese (I know, right?). Long story short, after waiting for a brief period of time, I left for the bathroom and to check my insulin pump before my meal. When I got back to the table, I was pleased to see that our food had arrived. All, except Alexander’s.
I wasn’t there for the interaction but my wife pointed out that our toddler wouldn’t eat cheese and that we had ordered hamburgers for him, not cheeseburgers. The waitress took it back and they were currently correcting the problem. Satisfied that our concern as addressed, we asked that his fries be brought out so he could start eating with us, which they accommodated. His burgers were brought out a few minutes later, which he barely touched, rendering the point moot. But they corrected the issue and quickly, to boot. So, no harm, no foul, we all started wolfing down our food and enjoying our meal. The restaurant was reasonably empty, which I’m sure isn’t great for them but was comfortable for us.
Since I had already put the oversight out of my mind, what happened next surprised me. The restaurant manager came to check on us and ask how our food was, then explained that she had removed Alexander’s meal from our bill due to the mistake. We were grateful but explained it wasn’t necessary and she took it a step further by explaining that it was directly her mistake as she was helping to dress meals in the kitchen. She felt that since it was her mistake that it was only fair that she comp the meal to make up for the inconvenience. Look at that! Faith in humanity restored! We were so taken aback that all we could do was thank her and continue to enjoy our meal (which I was unable to finish due to the portion size).
As I said earlier, I worked a lot of years in the service industry before becoming a police officer and having even been a manager in a number of different industries myself, I’ve seen many of them take care of mistakes by refunding or comping certain services. But the willingness to take responsibility and explain that this was directly her mistake? I Don’t believe I’ve ever seen a manager do that. It was certainly the right thing to do, don’t get me wrong. But it was nice to see. And since we would have gladly eaten our meal and gone on our way, having received exactly what we paid for, we would have been no less pleased with our visit. But this was a significant dollop of icing on an otherwise delicious cake.
Given the nature and attitude of society, the inflated sense of entitlement and the attitudes, snowflakes and more popularly “Karens,” it can be easy to forget sometimes that not everyone is a total jackass looking to make your day worse. Sometimes, you hit a person who genuinely wants to make something right and there are those who still believe in taking the right responsibility when they believe they’ve done something wrong. When one has the opportunity to experience this phenomenon, it certainly goes a long way towards restoring one’s faith in humanity. Needless to say, this restaurant location just may have become my family’s new, “non-fast food” go-to spot. ☯️
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“It’s a trap!”