I really encourage everyone to read this heartfelt open letter to a mother and child from a restaurant manager encountered the two a few weeks ago. I have more than one connection to the subject matter.
To the woman and child who sat at Table 9,
I did not introduce myself to you. My name is Tony Posnanski. I have been a restaurant manager for 15 years now. My day consists of making sure my restaurant runs well. That could mean washing dishes, cooking and sometimes even serving tables. I have also dealt with every guest complaint you can imagine.
A few weeks back you came into my restaurant. I was very busy that night. I was running around helping the kitchen cook food. I was asked to talk to a table close to yours. I did and they said your child was being very loud. I heard some yelling while I was talking to that table. I heard a very loud beep from a young girl.
I started to walk to your table. You knew what I was going to ask. You saw the table I just spoke to pointing at you. I got to your table and you looked at me. You wanted the first word. You said…
“Do you know what it is like to have a child with autism?”
You were not rude when you asked the question. In fact, you were quite sincere. Your daughter could not have been more than 5 years old. She was beautiful and looked scared that I was at the table. She looked like she thought she was in trouble.
In 15 years I do not have a lot of memorable moments as a restaurant manager. I remember some guests who were mad that their burgers were not the way they wanted them. I remember a woman who called corporate on me because she said I gave her a regular Coke instead of a Diet Coke. I remember having to cut people off from drinking alcohol and I remember having to tell tables to have their child be quieter.
You asked me the question right away. You have been through this before in other restaurants. I did not want to be like other managers for one moment. I did not want to tell you what you always heard.
Honestly, I wrote this to you and your beautiful daughter because I wanted to thank you both.
You have given me a great restaurant memory. One that I needed for the last 15 years.
You also taught me a valuable lesson…
Sometimes doing the right thing does not make everyone happy — just the people who need it the most.
I waited tables for many years in NYC during my younger days as an actor. I understand the frustrations guests can have.
That being said, my brother is mildly autistic and I know what it’s like to have some people not understand what’s involved when dealing with someone who copes with autism every day.
So many people are so kind and patient. They “get” it.
Other folks, though, are not so nice. Or patient. They are in the middle of their own lives, and rightfully so. But in not slowing down to see “who” and “what” dynamic is at play in front of them, they miss touching their own humanity.
It really is in those moments, like Tony Posnanski says above, that we may “not make everyone happy — just the people who need it the most.” That’s when we touch the human factor of our lives.
Go read the entire essay on Huffington Post.