I finally arrived home after a long day of working, going to noon-time Ash Wednesday Mass, leaving work, and having a retreat coordination meeting. I purchased some canned soup at Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market and was in the process of consuming such a thing when I had the brilliant idea of going to Waffle House the next morning!
So I got up at my usual time of 4:40AM, prayed my usual Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, took care of my dog like usual, and headed out the door.
I walked into a Waffle House nearby. I was the only customer at the time.
Then it got awkward. Really awkward.
Upon walking in, I could hear one of the employees clearly being disgruntled about something. As I sat down and was helped by another employee, I could hear what the 77-year old employee was upset about. How do I know that he’s 77-years old? Because he later told me while being upset yet in apology.
Apparently he was very angry and upset at another employee. I’m not sure if that other employee was currently on the same shift or not. This other employee apparently hadn’t been carrying their weight while at work by taking too long of smoke breaks and focusing too much on the girlfriend as opposed to doing actual work. What also made the elderly employee upset was that the other employee must have said something to disrespect him because he kept going on and on about being disrespected.
And it got really awkward because the upset employee was being very vocal, loud, and angry. He kept going on and on about being disrespected. I think he attempted to call the other employee or maybe management, but all I can remember was him also threatening to quit his job and go back to accounting. He also kept vocalizing about being ganged up on by the other employees.
Yelling. Being angry. Being out and about being this way while I, a customer, was present.
I was just trying to enjoy my waffle, eggs, and hash browns. My server kept checking on me and kept apologizing each time. My initial reaction was just to try to ignore, but on the inside I kept thinking “omg, is this really happening?”.
Waffle House drama almost got real.
Luckily, it didn’t escalate to anything more than that for the remaining duration of my breakfast. I think what helped was another employee coming in as well as another customer. I did send my guardian angel on a mission to the upset employee to see about bringing back a sense of peace, so maybe that helped (this is a new habit of mine in tense situations), too.
After some reflection, I couldn’t help but think about this ordeal in relation to A) Japanese attitudes and B) the fact that it is now Lent.
You see, in Japan, workers actually take a great amount of pride in their work. They strive to do their best regardless of their occupation. I know this because of the overly enthusiastic toll booth guy. What seemed to have irked the 77-year old employee at Waffle House is that the other employee was clearly not doing their job.
The Japanese also observe formalities out of respect and honor for people who are older or who hold higher status in a company. Again, the other employee didn’t seem to do this.
Every single food establishment in Japan that I’ve been to, I’ve always felt welcome and the vibe that the employees are eager to serve. It’s part of that great amount of pride that they have in their work. I really get the sense that they’re not about themselves but really for the customer. So uhh, that apparently didn’t quite happen at this here Waffle House.
Lastly, it’s Lent. For us Catholics, we do such crazy things like praying, fasting, and giving alms because it helps us to think less of ourselves and focus more on Christ. In other words, Lent is a time to not think about self and think more about the Other. And others. So this is where I think the upset employee and the other employee could have done better. The other employee should have been doing their job as what is expected of him. The upset employee, though justly upset, should not have caused a scene out in the open like that because of the presence of customers (or really, just me, but it’s not about me). That’s just bad customer service primarily because in a situation like that, it is not about the customer and there’s no service.
Anyway, that’s how my Thursday started out. Maybe I shan’t return to that Waffle House on a Thursday at 5:30AM for a while…
Waffle House // Dallas Morning News