If you are going to do something, do it well.
Last week, I was working in our Chicago office, and went to Baton Rouge for the weekend. On my last morning, I went to breakfast at a new breakfast restaurant in Baton Rouge.
The restaurant was in a black neighborhood, and a majority of the patrons and staff were black.
By coincidence, I sat in the section with the only white waitress…
I noticed all the black waitresses and waiters smiled, and seemed to be very friendly and efficient.
But for me, the service was beyond terrible … and I had to ask the dumpy white girl who was my waitress several times for extra coffee, and things that I ordered were wrong or forgotten, and the dishes sat in front of me until I asked several times for her to take them away.
The food was ok, but the terrible service killed my experience at the restaurant, and if i lived in Baton Rouge, I would not go again.
When the bill arrived, I thought about how there is no way this waitress deserved a tip … because the service was so bad. Possibly the worst service I have ever had..
But in our world today, everyone is a victim … and I realized that I will be the one who is wrong. I will be considered the asshole if I don’t leave a tip.
…..The dumpy white waitress will not reflect on how mediocre she is, and why she didn’t earn a tip.
So reluctantly, I left 10% … and got up to leave.
Throughout my meal, I noticed how friendly, gregarious and efficient the other waitresses were – they were all black.
One young black waitress was on her first day of work … and I noticed how quickly she took orders, delivered the food and took away the finished dishes; and you could see this young woman valued her job.
As I was leaving, the white guy manager asked me how my meal was and I told him about my experience – the food was good, but my service was so bad that it killed my experience at the restaurant.
And I pointed to the new waitress whom I had seen getting trained, and I told the white guy manager how I wish she had been my waitress.
Quickly, I discovered the new waitress is a 26 year old who is getting a PHD in microbiology at Louisiana State University … and the young woman very eloquently went into great detail explaining what she is studying, and that she is working two jobs, and on top of her studies, she is in the middle of a 18 month internship in a cancer research lab, and she told me about the focus of her studies and what her goal is … (I should point out that she didn’t tell me that she has two jobs… I asked her if she had a scholarship, and she told me she did not, and doesn’t get financial aid so she must work two jobs)
I asked her a bunch of questions … I was mesmerized by her story…. and she told me that she had to drop out of school for 2 years because both her parents died in a car accident, and she couldn’t afford to continue school, and she had dropped out and worked to save money, etc … but now she was back in, and as she said, “finally” getting her PHD. She is a an incredibly, positive young woman.
I had ordered a coffee mug of the restaurant from her (the service was terrible; the food was just ok, but they had a cool coffee mug), and I had an excuse to give her a tip, and gave her a $50 bill (I would have given her a $100, but I didn’t have one on me) …I told her “I am your first tip” and I want you to remember today — because you must go to the end of your goal, and do what ever you can to achieve your PHD. She said “I will never forget you…” I told her, “Don’t remember the money – but remember this moment, and remember this: Don’t ever stop going after this PHD… no matter what.”
Ironically, the dumpy white waitress who had served me, walked by as I handed the new waitress the $50 bill … and she said “he only left me $6 dollars, but gives you $50…” and she rolled away too quickly for me to explain how bad she was at her job… exactly, what I expected. A victim.
On my flight back to Dubai later that day, I thought about that experience with the waitresses, and how the world is full of people who just half-heartedly go through their lives, and do the bare minimum in various aspects such as their work.
There is no coincidence .. most mediocre people are also dumpy.
If you are going to do something – do it well.
Don’t be mediocre.…