Spread joy while sharing bounty
I recently had a disappointing experience while eating at a local restaurant.
Our waitress was a young woman who approached us pleasantly as we were seated. There were a couple of small mishaps; a mix-up on decaf or regular coffee, small stuff like that. She thanked us for being understanding of the glitch. We said ‘no big deal,’ and we declared that we probably hadn’t spoken clearly when ordering.
Later, during our meal, another small delay in preparing our food caused the waitress to say, ‘Thank you for being so nice to me.’ We were surprised that she had expected any other response from us.
As she began to clear our table, the young woman asked if we were from out of town. We responded that we lived in the county. I asked if her perception of us as out-of-towners was based on the rather formal clothing we were wearing, having just attended a funeral. ‘Oh, no,’ she replied. ‘That could have been part of it, but mainly it was that you were so pleasant and considerate to me.’
I thought about her negative opinion of customers and had to ask her why she had made such a comment. She said often the local diners were rather rude and demanding. When I asked her to describe what she had experienced, she painted a picture of some rather grumpy folks.
Good grief! What a description of our congeniality. This certainly wouldn’t be a welcoming mood for visitors or tourists to experience, but the greatest damage is that it creates a dark cloud for us local citizens to operate within. The waitress believed that the disagreeable mood extended to a sizable portion of the restaurant’s patrons. She mentioned the cantankerous tone of complaints and the lack of respect for others. She speculated that it existed with all ages, but she was most aware of the unpleasantness among younger guests.
I realize these observations were the words of just one person in one restaurant on one day, but they are significant. In a statewide poll taken some time ago, it was found that the biggest reason guests and businesses come to Indiana is our good, friendly people and our affordable housing and business climate. It only takes a few experiences like the waitress described to discourage a prospective resident, investor or tourist. It is poison to those of us who call this our home.
Maybe that is part of the explanation for the unhappy mood I often see in our stores. It seems to me that many folks lean on the handles of their shopping carts and appear to be weary and hopeless when they stroll the aisles looking for purchases.
Life is not automatically fun and roses. It is common to have misunderstandings and conflicting goals. But the rewards of growth, peace and happiness in the community are worth the effort.
I love Harrison and Crawford counties. This has been my home since 1957 even though work has regularly taken me to Indianapolis. I have often referred to our area as ‘peaceful valley,’ and it has indeed been a rural haven of good folks, beautiful land and fulfilling opportunities. I am distressed when gloom invades our lives.
We are now in the Thanksgiving season, when we are constantly reminded of the bounty of the harvest and the importance of showing our appreciation and gratitude. Maybe during this time of the renewed call to observe all the wonders around us we can show our thanks by our everyday behavior.
Civility and graciousness start at home and can easily get lost in the bustle of daily demands. In an impersonal and highly technical international society, if we don’t embrace each other here as our treasured family, there is little comfort in the global landscape. How are we going to work out differences with foreign cultures if we don’t know how to show appreciation for those who serve us the wrong kind of coffee?
The first settlers to our country’s shores found a wild and unfriendly landscape. It is the festivity in which they dined with Native Americans that we have celebrated all these years with the meal of Thanksgiving. The pilgrims had gone through sickness, starvation, loneliness and poverty. They found their salvation in coming together in a joyful way to share the bounty that the group created.
Can’t we do the same?