Act # 47: Don't be afraid to bus some tables every once in a while.
On the evening of Valentine's Day, Ron Deaver took his wife and teenage daughter to dinner at their local Thai restaurant that has been feeding his small hometown Thai and Chinese cuisine for over 20 years. It's one of those places that is ingrained in the culture of the locals, where loyal generations of people return more to support the hardworking namesake owner (who serves as chef and the only cashier) than for the Pad Thai. Everyone has some sort of connection to this place. Either you've waited tables there in college, or your kid used to get almond cookies "reserved especially for him", every time you checked out.
On Valentine's day Ron and his family arrived surprised to find an unusually long line of agitated customers waiting to be seated. Clearly, nothing says love like green chicken curry. Tables were dirty and piled with dishes. Not a server, a chef, or a cashier in sight. If it were anyone else, they might have deemed their Valentine's day plans officially ruined. Anyone else might have stood there increasingly impatient, dramatically using their body language to demand that someone, somewhere better show up soon to serve their needs. Anyone else might have turned right around, given up on the establishment and went across the street for some chicken and dumplings at the chain comfort food restaurant.
But not Ron Deaver. To the dismay of his mortified teenage daughter (She would later come around. With a father like Ron, she's cursed with those "compassion" genes as well), Ron rolled up his sleeves, marched into the kitchen, grabbed a dish towel, a tub, and started bussing tables, wiping them down, and bringing dirty plates back into the kitchen. Oh, but he didn't stop there. He then began grabbing menus and seating the impatient customers. A couple of incredibly valuable take-aways from this sweet, touching story:
1. Ron's daughter will forever remember the Valentine's day that her dad demonstrated true selflessness - how to step out of one's comfort zone to lend a helping hand to someone in need.
2. The impatient customers had to have been humbled. While they were tapping their toes, sighing deeply, arms crossed, bewildered that someone dare leave them standing unattended for multiple minutes, Ron humanized the owner and workers of the restaurant, acknowledging that they were probably trying their best, and could have used a little help.
3. The owners of the restaurant learned that day that despite the fact that they were implants to the region. Despite the fact that they did not look or talk like most of the townspeople, they were truly part of a caring, compassionate community. That those regulars coming back every weekend were coming back for much more than hot and sour soup.
And while the Deavers later filled their hungry stomachs with Pad Thai "on the house", their hearts were even fuller. As were the hearts of the many people they touched that night in their small home town.