There are times when we are trusted to take care of other people’s property or interests. We are trusted to do the right thing for that person in their absence. That is what a good employee does, that is what a good friend does, and that is what a good spouse does. Not everyone can be trusted in that way though, and some people, despite peer pressure will do the right thing even if they are criticized. I’d like to think I would stand up and do the right thing and risk ridicule from others. I think I’m more willing to now than ever, but I don’t think that was always true in the past.
My husband and I like to get up early on the weekend to go to breakfast. In the city where we live brunch is a very popular thing for people to do on Saturdays and Sundays (in fact we schedule brunch with a group of friends one to two times a month). So restaurants can be very busy on the weekends if you go any time after eight-thirty, but if you are early risers like my husband and I, you can visit some of the most popular restaurants without a wait.
Saturday we woke up shortly after five and there are only a few restaurants that are open that early and one of them had just been renovated so we decided to check it out. We drove to the center of the city, parked the car in front of a brightly lit building and heard the music playing loudly before we even arrived at the door.
There was one table of about six to eight young people, but other than that, we were the only people in the restaurant. It was still before six in the morning. A server came to our table and brought us menus, and asked us what we would like to drink. I said, “Water and coffee, please.” My husband just wanted coffee.
Most of the staff members working in the restaurant were all congregated near the back of the bar talking, laughing and joking. The music seemed to get even louder, and when the server came, I noticed that our table had a basket full of empty creamers. I asked for some cream. He went to get it.
A different young man who was busy cleaning tables (the only one separated from the group of employees near the back) came to our table. My husband told me he had been motioning to the group in the back to turn down the music but they ignored him. He was the only one who was busying himself by cleaning each table and prepping for what was sure to be a morning crowd.
By this time my husband and I had decided to leave. It was obvious the kitchen crew and everyone but the young man were not interested in our comfort as customers.
I told the young man cleaning that the music was too loud for us, and the coffee was cold and bitter as if it had been out all night. He apologized, and said he would make a fresh pot. We told him not to bother, we just wanted our check. He said, “Forget it.”
“Then we will just leave a tip and go.” I said.
“That’s alright. I’m sorry.” He said.
We put a five dollar bill on the table and left. My husband and I drove to a neighborhood up North that is a beach community. My husband had found a little restaurant that opened at six that he wanted to try. There was a very faint music playing when we arrived. The place looked like a small diner out of the 50’s. Everyone said good morning and smiled. The server told me her favorite meal was the oatmeal pancakes which I ordered.
In the first restaurant there was only one person who could be trusted with someone else’s business interests, but he did so at the risk of being ignored and criticized by all the other employees. But the fact that there was one person among a crowd of many who knew what was right and wasn’t afraid to do it, gave me hope. Sometimes all it takes is one person doing the right thing to change the world.
I won’t go back to the first restaurant but every time I think of it, I will think of that young man, his trustworthiness, his integrity, his courage. The music was loud and the coffee was cold but there was a young man of character there, and his character was the golden kind – the kind you can trust with your business and the kind that will stand up for you even when it means he isn’t accepted by his peers. I want to be like that person to those who trust me.