Not sure how many people know this about me, but one of my favorite jobs in the world was waiting tables. AND, I have to say, I was pretty darn good at it. When I started working at 16 at Golden Corral Restaurant, my parents gave me this great advice:
Whatever you do, keep the men’s tea glass full. Don’t make them ask for refills. Simple enough. THIS, I can do. I put myself through college working at this little restaurant called The Farmhouse in Roanoke, VA. (Even served Dave Thomas of Wendy’s once…. and the cast and crew of Dirty Dancing were regulars during filming…but that was before my time!)
While many customers were PAINS in the A- Double Scribble…. my job was to SERVE them. If they asked for something special – no matter how bizarre – and it could PHYSICALLY be done, I did it for them. If they asked for no onions in their salad, EVEN THOUGH the salads were pre-made each night WITH onions on top, I put on gloves and hand picked the tomatoes out before giving it to them. If they asked for an unopened bottle of ketchup rather than the one on the table I got it for them. This one man would ask me to bring his glass and a lemon rhine to his table. He wanted to me to rub the rim of the glass with the rhine of the lemon prior to pouring his tea. (As I type this NOW -many years later – I am thinking he was probably some crazy pervert, but truthfully I didn’t think twice back then.) Rub glass rim with lemon? Check. Check.
Now, because of these experiences as a server / waitress, my family thinks it is a nightmare to go out to dinner with me. They hate when I order because I want substitutions or special requests. And I hate when the waitress looks at me like I’ve grown two heads because I’ve asked for something slightly off menu. For instance, when I was VERY pregnant, my husband and I went to Southland Restaurant for breakfast. I asked for an English Muffin egg sandwich. BUT, instead of having my eggs scrambled, I wanted them cooked over-medium. Simple enough, right? Nope. It went something like this, and I promise I have a point:
SERVER: Oh… well the eggs for the egg sandwiches come scrambled.
ME: Yes, I understand that. But I would like my egg cooked over-medium.
SERVER: I’m so sorry. I’m afraid we can’t do that ma’am.
ME: Well, do you have a full kitchen back there?
ME. And are the eggs fresh?
SERVER: Oh yes. Fresh off the farm.
ME: Perfect. So I want the cook to take a fresh egg, crack it open over a frying pan and cook that egg over-medium. Then, I want him to place that egg on my plate, next to the toasted English Muffin. How does that sound?
The server, very frustrated with my apparently audacious request and what I considered super basic common sense, walked away. I did get my egg cooked over-medium, but that’s not the point. The point is two-fold, and each point may actually contradict one another… doesn’t mean they can’t BOTH be true:
We need to question, challenge, and in some cases defy what others say CAN’T be done and – at times – refuse to accept “NO” from our vendors, our clients, and above all…. ourselves. Dan Kennedy, one of the most brilliant marketing and economic minds of our time, warns us:
“Few who are compliant ever achieve anything of note… You can simple divide people into those who easily accept “no” and ”you can’t do that” as answers and those who do not. And I can predict bank balances… and judge whether or not someone can be independently successful or must be dependent on and provided for by others.. by that behavioral choice.” He goes on to say, “Whether welcome or not: the defiant spirit lives inside the toughest, hardest, most independent, hardiest, most independent, most autonomous, most successful achievers.”