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A friend and I stopped for lunch today at an IHOP in Dallas, Texas. A young waitress seated us, spoke pleasantly, told us her name, and said she’d be “helping you today.” We ordered our meals, bantered with her about my friend’s request for an “Arnold Palmer” (half ice tea and half lemonade), which she’d never heard of, and laughed with her as she brought back her first attempt mixing the concoction. She then left to place our orders.

Maybe 10 minutes later we looked out the window to see her walking across the parking lot to her car. We laughed and joked, “Looks like she won’t be helping us after all.” Little did we know.

We waited another several minutes and finally hailed another waitress to ask her about our order. To our surprise, Waitress #2 said no order had been placed and that she knew nothing about it. She also said Waitress #1 had not, as was standard operating procedure, informed her about our table.

Amazingly, Waitress #1 apparently walked out at the end of her shift fully aware she hadn’t placed our order, even though she’d had plenty of time to do so. What made it more amazing is that she’d responded so graciously earlier, emphasizing she would care for our luncheon requests. Considering: she had to know she was leaving when she blatantly made those statements.

It’s not like this is the end of the world. But it’s been a while since I’ve witnessed someone act with utter disregard for protocol and professionalism. Giving her just a little room for doubt, maybe she got an emergency call. If so, she certainly wasn’t hurrying to her car. Actually, she was playing with her hair. No, she just walked out. So much for work ethic professionalism.

We talked about this incident, of course, with our new waitress, who by the way, was nice, efficient, attentive, and professional. Finally we decided we weren’t doing Waitress #1 any favors by ignoring her stiff arm. So we asked to talk to the manager.

The restaurant manager showed up moments later looking like he’d rather be somewhere else and no doubt wondering what we were going to unload on him. But we simply and straightforwardly told him what had happened, what the waitress’s name was, which she’d made a point of telling us—too bad for her—and saying to the manager that we thought Waitress #2 was a good and worthy employee. He apologized for our experience, though he didn’t offer us a free meal, and said he’d care for it.

I don’t know if the manager will follow through. It’s up to him now. But I hope Waitress #1 learns something out of this other than how to make an Arnie Palmer.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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