Back in my waiting table days, I had a young woman sit down alone in my section. I went up to her and went through my spiel. She looked up at me, and I could immediately tell she was in borderline shock. She said, “I just came home and found my best friend having sex with my boyfriend.”
I don’t know, I think I told her I was sorry. She said, “It just happened and I came here.” She started crying. I knew right away the situation required someone with better social skills than me, so I told the story to another server, Bryan, a good-natured and outgoing and likeable guy, he was also handy, and then I went over and told her I thought Bryan would be a good person to talk with. (I realize it might not have been a great idea to divulge her personal story to a complete stranger, but she kind of did that to me, so I figured she wouldn’t mind.) Brian sat and chatted with her, a bit. I chatted with her, a bit. The best was an older woman was eating nearby with her ten-year-old daughter. That woman abandoned her daughter and sat with this younger woman, talking to her, holding her hand, for almost her whole dinner. Bryan and I were busy with the dinner rush.
The shift manager let me comp her meal, and usually when a meal is free people still tip, they often tip more, but when she tried to tip me, I told her to use that money to buy her first drink. (She had already told me she was going out to get drunk after she ate.)
I’m sure we didn’t even dent the pain of what she was going through, but I like to imagine that as she coped with that reality of life, that people you love and people who love you will sometimes let you down and sometimes blatantly screw you over, she remembered wandering into a restaurant and asking for help from strangers and getting it.