Blane Sheffield

My Journey

The Waitress at IHOP

A few days ago I came home from work really tired and just didn’t feel like putting anything together for dinner for Caleb and I (mom was out of town) so I ask him if he wanted to drive back into town and grab a bite to eat. We decided on I-HOP, we both love to have breakfast for supper.

We were seated in a booth and a waitress came to take our order. The waitress talked me into trying a dish they had on special that included a crepe wrapped around creme cheese filling and three different types of berries on top.

Caleb and I sat there for the longest talking and realized that something must be wrong; it’s been way too long since we placed our order. Finally the waitress came by and apologized making some statement about the day shift being slow. What I really think happened is that our order just got turned in because about the time it would normally take to get your meal was the time between this statement and when our meal finally got to the table. The lady brought the food to the table and ask if there was anything else we needed. Noticing I didn’t get the crepes she had talked me into but some type of waffles covered in strawberries, I shared that she had given me the wrong thing and reminded her she had talked me into the crepes. She apologized and a few minutes later returned with the crepes.

I think it was when the waitress was returning the waffles to the back, I heard Caleb say “She’s not a very good waitress, is she”. I don’t recall even replying, just acknowledging what he said.

Here’s the moment the paradigm shift occurred!

When the lady laid the crepes on our table, she sincerely apologized and said “I’m so sorry, it was really my fault that your food was late and you got the wrong thing. You see, my husband died four days ago and I just can’t get my head together. I decided to return to work today hoping it would take my mind off of it a little but it’s not working out so well”.

I felt so bad for her and told her I was so sorry to hear of her loss. Feeling the need to show her that I really cared, I tried to carry the conversation a bit further and ask her if she and her husband were from this area and I ask her if he’d suffered from a sickness like cancer or something and the moment you could have heard a pin drop occurred when she replied “No, he killed himself at work, said he just couldn’t take it any longer. He has no idea how bad he has hurt me doing that and if I could reach across to the other side, I’d choke him”.

I hardly remember the next few moments as she walked away toward the cooking area. She was to my back then but Caleb could still see her and said that she was crying and some other waitress had her arms around her.

The moment that still means so much to me came then when Caleb said across the table to me in a soft voice “Dad, I feel like CRAP!”. I ask him why and he reminded me of the statement he had made earlier about her not being a very good waitress.

I looked him in the eyes, nodded my head and said to him “Yes sir, this is one of those moments in your life that you can learn so much from if you’ll really take it in!” He replied “Your so right, I still feel like crap though”.

The door was opened to hopefully instill a powerful life lesson into my 13-year old son and I seized the opportunity sharing that often in life, we make judgments about others and sometimes even get onto them, disciplining them, when we lack the total picture. It is so important when disappointment in the way someone is acting or performing is your primary feelings to try and remove the tunnel vision that is so human nature and try to look at the bigger picture! So many times, there are things happening in that person’s life that it is virtually impossible for them to deal with the life issues they are having to deal with and still put on the persona, personality and even hold to their responsibilities as they normally would most other times.

A lot of people, I’m certainly one of them, do not feel comfortable talking to people other than those they are closest to about such matters when real struggles are encountered in their personal life and they find it virtually impossible to carry on in their expected social, employment and other circles as if nothing is wrong.

I hope to use this moment and experience that I feel God so well “arranged” to instill this principle deep into my heart and mind and the next time I begin to sit in the seat of judgment in my mind, and even worse, if it makes it to the mouth, that I will see this waitress’s face in my mind and remember this valuable lesson Caleb and I had the blessing of learning at I-Hop that day.

As Caleb and I were leaving, I felt one last inspiration to use this moment to his benefit. When the bill was returned to the table with my credit card in it, Caleb watched me sign the credit card receipt and then, rather than put the standard 15% gratuity on the credit card, which would have been approximately $3.00, I marked through the gratuity part and reached into my wallet finding one $20 bill (thankfully). I laid the $20 on the table and we began to walk away. Caleb said “Wow Dad, that’s a lot isn’t it?”. As we were rounding a corner leaving the restaurant, I told Caleb “turn around and look back for a moment”. He did, as I, and the waitress was looking at us through the window, smiling and waving.

I know it’s not much, it’s what I had available to me at the moment. As we turned back around and approached the car, I remember telling Caleb “nothing you will ever do in this life will mean more to you than those moments like this when you have the opportunity to give, regardless of how big or small it is, give! Remember that!”

I drove home so thankful to God for setting that stage the way He did and giving me such a moment with my son. I’m so sorry the life lesson included such sadness in the life of another and pray the Lord will continue to comfort this dear lady in a way only He truly can but also thank him for using this sad time to instill one of His dearest principles, to always approach times of judgment and discipline considering the following scriptural direction;

Throughout our lives, as we live them for Christ, let us not be quick to judge others and impugn their motives. Only God knows their hearts (Acts 1:24). Let us let Him judge in matters of the heart.

Matthew 7:1-2 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

A scripture that continues to humble me every time it comes to mind when I find myself in a position of having to judge another’s actions is Galatians 6:1 – Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also.

It’s the “Gentle Spirit” that rings the loudest in my mind!

Again Heavenly Father, thank you for using this unfortunate circumstance in another’s life to instill a powerful life lesson in my son and mine and continue to bestow a love and comfort on this dear lady and others impacted by this tragic loss of life as only You truly can. I pray that you will place the right people in the right places and times to bless her and reach out in love as she so needs right now.

Blane Sheffield
blanesheffield.com

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