It doesn’t matter how often you show up, it just matters that you do

“How are you?” asked the man I didn’t know.

“We haven’t been here in a while,” replied his companion. 

It doesn’t matter how long it has been. If it’s never been, or even if it never will be again. All that matters is that you are there at that moment. The Yogis say there is no past, there is no future, there is only this moment. The philosophers will agree. And the lawyers will argue. But a bartender will shrug his/her shoulders. We already know that. The most important customer/client/guest is the one sitting in front of you right now. Because that is the only course of events that you have control over.

“Well thanks for coming in,” I said.

“We are happy to support our favorite restaurant.”

If I recognized them or didn’t recognize them, makes no real difference, every experience is new and every one starts right now. 

“This is one of our favorite one of our favorite restaurants,” he or she said. I don’t quite remember. However I do remember what he said next.

“Is this new?” he asked of our three year old pre-pandemic bar top. 

Its not my job to make people uncomfortable, or to point out their errors, or their mispronunciations , or errors of fact or even errors of fiction. My job is to make people feel comfortable. That is the nature of hospitality. Inclusiveness.

We have all had that experience where we walk into a place and instantly feel unwelcome. It can happen when leaving too. I once frequented a fast casual place where you had to walk out past the entire staff. The only time they ever said anything to me was if I said something to them first. Not they height of professionalism.

And funny thing, they didn’t survive the pandemic. I wonder why?

Which is exactly why I didn’t point out the obvious to that couple. 

I spend a lot of time on these pages poking fun at the problem customers, but the truth is, most of the people I wait on are quite nice. And I wanted to make sure to take some time out to thank the many people who make my job so enjoyable. 

There are many professions that seem to need constant praise and constant thanks, but the service business isn’t one of them. The easiest way to show your appreciation to a service person is to not to do anything. At least not anything untoward. The key to appreciation is as simple as not being a jerk. That’s it. Nothing more. 

You don’t have to hand us the plates, or move your glasses closer, or wipe your spot down. We will be happy to do all that. We do it every day. You don’t have to ask us how we are feeling, or ask us about our day. What you can do, is just don’t cause problems. And I mean obvious problems, like cutting in line, or blocking the aisle, or lying about your reservation time. We will be forever grateful for that one simple act. People forget that the act of appreciation is as simple as observing the rules. Our rules, not yours.

Some people already know that. And for them I am eternally grateful. Long after I have left this bar and these pages I will remember all of the moments that we have spent together. The bad might get more print but it is the good that sends me into work each and every night. 

Thank you to Mike and Holly, Mary, Robert and Michelle, Scott, Bob, Jeff and Melissa, Frank, Joan and David, Robin, Jim and Diane, Jim, Jason and Samantha, Dan, Philip and Lisa, Robbie, Ron and Ann, Mick and Chanty, Rhonda, Sue, Jeff, Geoff, Steve, David, Tom, Mike, Trish, and all the other people I see every week. Thank you to all the people who come in every couple of weeks. Thank you to the people I only see only on the holidays. Thank you to the people I see every couple of years and thank you to the couple who just noticed the new bar top (after three years) at their “favorite restaurant.” It doesn’t matter how often you come in, it just matters that you do. And I appreciate all of you for that.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-Appreciation is an action, not a word

-No amount of complaining has ever fixed anything

-“Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions,” might be the best bartender/customer quote ever. 

– This is my 800th Barfly column. Thanks to all of you too!