by Steve DiGioia, Featured Contributor
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap] FINALLY FOUND A QUIET WEEK at work where I could get a few days off and take my family to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. We haven’t been there since my kids were little and now it’s time for THEM to drag ME on to the roller coasters. I’m dating myself since these new fangled rides are no longer called “roller coasters.” They’re more like “roller flips-you around-until-your brain-is-scrambled.”
Anyway, after a great two days in the park we decided to stop at a nearby Applebees for dinner. Applebees is a decent family-friendly theme restaurant, nothing fancy, but the food comes out quick and is priced right. But I did not expect what happened.
We were a party of 8 people and were seated right away in a large booth. A friendly waitress, I unfortunately don’t remember her name, came by and asked us if we wanted to order any drinks first which we all did. We had our kids so no “adult beverages” for us today. She left and promptly returned with our beverages and gently placed each in front of us. I quickly thought to myself, “I don’t remember seeing her write the drinks down”, but, well, maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.
After serving our drinks she asked if we were ready to order and we said yes; were starving from a long day in the park. As she went around the table taking each of the 8 orders she confidently explained the dishes and offered French fries for the kids and asked if my youngest one wanted tomato sauce or butter on her pasta. This time I was paying attention. I was the last one to order and I watched as she came around to me, with her hands comfortably placed behind her back and took my order. She then said thank you and left the table.
Now this I noticed. It’s not many waiters that can take an 8 person order table-side without writing it down and still explain some of the dishes when asked a question about the sides. But will she get it right?
Since I’m “in the business” – I pay attention to the exact steps of service a waiter does, or does NOT do (this is one of the things I get paid to fix and improve) – I had many years of pointing out certain things that a server may have done wrong, my wife and kids are expecting me to be my usual super critical self and automatically ask me how she did. “Did you all notice that she never wrote the orders down?” I asked. “Yeah, my wife said, I saw that too”. My daughter now chimed-in, “Daddy, don’t start complaining, isn’t that a good thing?” I said it was great! “But will she get the orders right, I finished?”
Conversation moved along to the rides we went on today; isn’t it strange that when I was 20 I wouldn’t go on these crazy rides but now that I’m over 50 and I do? Anyway, twice while waiting for our food our waitress quietly stopped by and, without being asked, served another round of drinks to anyone whose glass was nearing empty. My raspberry iced tea was constantly refilled. That’s a plus in my book.
Now the moment of truth arrives as our waitress, and 2 coworkers also with hands full of our food, approached our table. She dropped the first 3 plates and told the other servers which dish was for each customer. Before leaving our table she made a point to ask us if there was anything else we desired and finished with an “Enjoy your meal” and she was on to another table.
This was unexpected. I had thought there was no way she would get all the meals correct AND served to the correct person. I was pleasantly surprised and grateful. Now of course my wife says sarcastically, “Well Steve, how do you like that, not one mistake.” I answered, “I love it!”
We finished our meals and the table was cleared quickly. We all were very tired and couldn’t wait to get back to our hotel rooms so we passed on those great looking desserts and asked for our check. Our waitress, who did a fantastic job, received a very generous tip and we were on our way. But not until I made a point of thanking her for a job well done.
So don’t be surprised if you get a “WOW” level of service from a person or company that you may not expect. Just enjoy it and return the appreciation.
I don’t expect to pass by the Applebees near Hershey Park anytime soon but if I do I hope that waitress is still there.