Memorable

My husband and I eat out more than we should, but we rarely visit a restaurant more than once or twice a month.  I honestly don’t think there’s anything about either one of us that is particularly memorable, as we’re just your average sixty-something couple who enjoys a good restaurant meal.  So I’m always a bit surprised when the staff recognizes us, because I’m not exactly sure just what it is that would make us stand out from the dozens, if not hundreds, of other people they serve every month.  I mean, it’s not as if we’re bringing along our pet aardvark or something else that would attract undue attention.

Yet time and time again, the wait staff will greet us warmly and sometimes even remember what we like to order.  The first time this happened, I was with some former college friends, having our own little reunion five years after graduation.  We walked into the college bar we’d frequented as students and the bartender greeted us with, “Welcome back, ladies!  Having the usual?”  (That did startle me a bit, but I put it down as the result of a misspent youth.)

Sometimes it’s been rather touching, such as the time my husband and I returned to a restaurant we hadn’t eaten in since the pandemic started.  My husband got us a table while I made a quick stop in the restroom.  When I joined him, our old waitress brought over the menus and greeted us warmly.  I was impressed she’d remembered us, but then she looked at me and added, “It’s so good to see you!  When your husband walked in alone, we actually got a little teary.”  My husband battled cancer during the pandemic, so he weighed about fifty pounds less than he had when the staff last saw him.  I guess between him looking so gaunt and my absence, they thought we’d both contracted Covid and only he had survived.

We’ve puzzled about this, and the only thing we can come up with is that maybe we’re just good customers, restaurant-wise.  We eat out regularly, we’re always polite and friendly with the wait staff, and we try to tip well.  We’re patient when they’re short-staffed, and understanding when things don’t go perfectly.  Waiting tables is hard work, so maybe those who do it appreciate, and remember, the customers who treat them well.

And if you think about it, the same is true for almost every area where we  interact with other people.  We know how important it is to treat our friends and family well, but I believe it’s just as important to treat everyone we come into contact with well, as far as we are able.  A bit of patience, a friendly word, or even an encouraging smile seem like such little things….but the truth is, people notice them.  And often, that’s also what they remember.

95 thoughts on “Memorable

  1. I hate to say it, but I find myself surprised every time I have a pleasant interaction with someone in public. I know it sounds cynical, but I guess it has to do with all the nonsense I see and read, about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. And sure, things ain’t great, but I should stop being so surprised.

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    • That’s the problem with the news: it makes us believe that everyone hates everyone else, and it can actually make us afraid of others. Whereas when we actually interact with others, we realize most people really are nice. Even the ones who are very different from us, who knew? Thanks for sharing that!

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  2. So good to be treated with respect and good customer service Ann. I think you two are probably more memorable than you think and good hospitality industry staff will respond to that. Pat and I often joke that the young servers likely look at us and say…”Look at the old couple. They are just so cute.” Hope all is well. Allan

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    • Yes, I think people just like to be recognized and acknowledged. It’s amazing how much of a difference that can make. I was a waitress one summer, and that gave me a huge respect for the job!

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        • He’s eating a pretty balanced diet, and drinking high protein milk. The problem is that his stomach shrunk so much during his surgeries (he lost most of his weight as a result of them, not the chemo) that his portions are still small….getting bigger, but still not what he ate before all this mess started. And he has digestive issues that make it hard for his body to absorb all the nutrients of what he eats. I’m really hoping he gets some more weight on soon. Thanks fort hose suggestions! I’ll look for that book!

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          • I’m sure there are many more nutrition books since then that are similar or even better, but it did touch me with its heart, and enlighten with its practical wisdom and (even for me) doable-ness. Whenever I see your (or Finn’s!) name, I remember you both (and your mom and kids and grands) in prayer and am always wishing you the best answers.

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            • ♥️♥️ You’re welcome, and thank you! (And I concur — *meeting* some people through blogging here has been unexpectedly beneficial –and downright marble-saving at times!) 🙂 Wishing you both an easy day, and praying for muscle of all kinds.

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  3. I eat out very rarely but before the days of using mostly self serve checkouts at the grocery store I had a few very familiar checkers that were great to talk with especially when they remembered parts of earlier conversations. It’s nice to be remembered and I’m pleased that you and your husband are memorable Ann!

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    • Yes, I’ve gotten to know lots of the checkers at our local grocery store too. And they’re very nice and interesting people. It’s funny how those moments of connection can make us feel better, isn’t it?

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  4. Beautiful post. I think you’re right. Kindness is remembered. And, it’s wonderful that you treat wait staff so well. I waited tables in my 20’s. There’s a lot to remember and a lot to do. I am sure they appreciate your great service. I try to tip well, too, because I have been in their shoes. Great post.

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    • I was a waitress once too, and now that I think about it, I really did appreciate the people who were nice to me and acknowledged the effort I was making. I remember one man who tipped me on his carry out order, because I was checking him out, taking an order on the phone and cutting a pizza at the same time. Thanks for your kind words, Jessica!

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      • Oooo!! Yes! To go tips were very memorable! Some places we go these days, to go order tips are expected… I’m not super crazy about ‘expected’ because I like to surprise people with tips. Ha ha.

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  5. Beautiful post, I was rather tearful reading it. Apart from the wonderful interaction, I think it is special that both you and the staff are still going strong. As a former librarian, I always noticed mature library borrowers and would get worried if they missed their regular visit or a family member returned their books without them. Small things make up the tapestry of our lives 🙂 Gretchen.

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    • Thanks, Gretchen! And that’s a good point, I think people do remember their regulars, especially those who are a bit older. Even though we don’t go as often as I thought we should have to be remembered, it turns out that people have better memories than I thought! And I think it’s so sweet that you knew your regular patrons and worried when they didn’t come in as usual.

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  6. What a heartwarming and very real life post Ann. I’m sure one of the reasons you and your husband are remembered is because of the kind and authentic way you treat all these staff. People remember. And reciprocate. That’s the beauty of the ripple of kindness. Love it! 💜💗

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    • Thanks, Miriam! I knew you would agree with the point of this post….because it’s the sort of message that you are always spreading as well. And I love that phrase, “the ripple of kindness!” That says it perfectly.

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    • It is rare that a restaurant keeps its staff for years, especially during Covid. I think that’s a sign that the restaurant treats them well. And most of our favorite restaurants do have long-term staff, which is probably one of the reasons they are so good. It takes good people to make a good restaurant, that’s for sure!

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  7. So very true Ann. I also believe that just by being kind and courteous and passing on a few good words, we can truly make someone’s day a bit better. The waitstaff in the places you go probably see you and your husband come in and it’s like a breath of fresh air, a treat for them to have customers that they know will be patient and friendly.

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    • It usually takes very little effort to treat people right. And even on the days when we’re feeling stressed and crabby, we can still do it if we just try. The reward is that it helps everyone, us included, when we interact positively with other people. It’s a win/win situation for sure!

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  8. The good qualities you and your husband exhibit surely contribute to peoples’ ability to remember you. On the other hand, I suspect good waitstaff has their own tricks for remembering people. When I began my own business, I met a lot of people and often had a hard time remembering the names of those who weren’t customers. I learned some tricks to sharpen my memory because, as someone reminded me, non-customers are still potential customers!

    Your waitstaff’s in a somewhat different position, but still: customers who are remembered and treated well are more likely to return. There’s a reason even the window-workers at Chick-Fil-A always end an interaction with “My pleasure.” It’s a kind, pleasant response, perfectly designed to make a customer feel more positive about the place!

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    • You’re right, remembering and treating customers well helps grow a business. And in the case of waitstaff, it also improves tips. So it really is a win/win for both sides, which is a good thing. Personally, I don’t mind if people don’t remember me as long as they are polite and/or friendly. I ran in my vet at the grocery store once and he said hello as I passed. I said hello back, using his name. He was then embarrassed that, although he remembered my face, he didn’t remember my name. I told him not to be embarrassed: I had one vet name to remember, but he had hundreds of clients to remember! We both just laughed and moved on.

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  9. Being kind is such a simple act of human nature and I suspect you & your husband practice it regularly wherever you go. I love that wait staff remembered both of you & warmly welcomed you back into the places you enjoy. Continue spreading your friendly disposition Ann, we need it more than ever these days!

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    • Thanks, Lynn! It really was so sweet the way they treated us. The restaurant is inside a hotel, so they don’t have a patio and didn’t do carry-out during the pandemic. That meant it had been over a years since our last visit!

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  10. I think you are correct that probably you are very ideal customers, so they appreciate and remember that. What is surprising is that the staff are the same year after year! One time I was waiting in a very long line for the bathroom during intermission at an event in downtown St. Paul, MN. There was a woman standing next to me in line who looked vaguely familiar, but I could not place her and I am shy about addressing people if I am unsure. Anyway, she recognized me and introduced herself….she was one of my teachers in high school. This must have happened 25 or 30 years later!!! Maybe it is similar in that I was a “good” respectful student who did not cause trouble or drama.

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    • Wow! That is amazing that she recognized you after all the time passed (and probably means you’ve aged well too!) But my guess is that you did make an impression on her when she was your teacher, and in a very good way. And yes, it is surprising when restaurants keep their staff on for years, and I think it means they must treat them well. That’s also sign of a good restaurant, I think.

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  11. Lovely words of wisdom, Ann. You know, I read about a professor who gave his students an exam, the last question of which went something like this — “What’s the name of the lady who cleans this building?” Surprisingly, most students couldn’t begin to answer that! But, as he later explained, it’s important to see people as *people*, not as garbage men or housecleaning staff. And I used to work for a company which insisted that, after a hotel stay, we leave a short note and some cash to thank the room cleaning person. Just nice, thoughtful things to do … much as what you and your husband are doing to keep those restaurant workers recognizing and remembering you!

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  12. See, good manners are remembered. And it is nice to be recognized when you go back to a restaurant. More customers should be remembered for being good like your and your husband.. And maybe you and your husband make a good looking couple who appreciate each other and dining out.

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    • Thanks! In a world where it seems the people who behave the worst are the ones who get the most attention, it is nice to think that an average, quiet couple can also be remembered simply by being polite and friendly. Sort of gives us hope, doesn’t it?

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  13. Lovely post, Ann. I totally agree with you; it’s so important to remember that people are more than their job title, so it’s nice when the waiter/waitress or shopkeeper remembers you as more than simply the customer. My mottos are, “you can never do a kindness too soon” and “praise where praise is due.” I’m sure the wait staff remember you and your husband because you treat them well, are friendly and polite – all such important attributes.

    I went into Bodyshop in my town today and was greeted by the shop assistant, as soon as I got through the door, with a “hello, how lovely to see you again”, and came running up and hugged me. Fortunately, I’m a huggy sort of person, and she knows that from the times I’ve been in before. She always greets me like an old friend, which is partly why I keep going back (as well as really liking Bodyshop products). I’m always friendly and polite, too. I never forget how she makes me feel, and she says, she feels the same about me. It works both ways.

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  14. John is always recognised more in restaurants than I am, because quite often the waiting staff are, or were, his students! He has difficulty recognising all of them but manages to put up a good show (I can’t always tell which ones he genuinely remembers and which were just faces in the crowd).

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  15. The „result of a misspent youth“ line made me laugh out loud. 🙂 On a more serious note, I think restaurants (and check-out lines) are really good indicators of people‘s character. It draws the line between those who think that a position of power, sort of, in a service relationship that’s being paid for does not require niceness – and those who are kind even if they don’t „have to“. Your post is testament to your intrinsic niceness. It always shocks me when people whom I thought are decent, treat staff condescendingly. Similar to people who rush to the front when a new check-out opens, no matter their previous position in the line. It always leave me flabbergasted. And glad I don’t have to deal with them if I don’t want to.

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    • I agree! Everyone is kind and polite when they have to be, but if you want to see someone’s true character, what how they treat people they don’t have to treat nicely. I am always surprised when I see how easily people take their frustrations out on others. Sure, we all misstep once in a while, but when I do it, I own it and apologize for it. How we treat other people matters, I believe, now more than ever. PS: Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed that line!

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  16. I think it’s something about couples, too. Dwight and I eat out a lot, and people tend to remember us as a couple, first. I agree that it’s probably all the other things you said. Niceness seems to be a rarity today. And it probably is your pet aardvark; maybe it’s invisible lol

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    • Yeah, I remember saying to my husband, “why do we stand out? Did we bring a pet aardvark?” But I guess being nice is all it takes to be remembered these days. And I completely agree that being a couple helps. Women “of a certain age” tend to be invisible. It’s annoying, but it’s also the truth!

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  17. I love this! I’m so glad you and your husband could return to a restaurant you enjoy. When we can do some of those things, the future feels more hopeful. “A bit of patience, a friendly word, or even an encouraging smile,” is a wonderful encouragement on how to treat each other every day. Especially, these days that are extra difficult. It is always a wonder to me to see the change in the demeanor of someone behind a counter when you smile at them. Thank you for the uplifting and encouraging post, Ann!

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    • You’re so welcome, Brenda! I honestly have always believed that we need to treat others as well as possible, but these days it seems more important than ever. So many people are at the end of their rope, emotionally and every other way. Whatever encouragement we can give is appreciated, and can make all the difference!

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  18. Hi Ann – I am positive that they remember you because of how you have treated them. Wait staff work so hard and sometimes they’re short-staffed. It’s a difficult job! I think we need to respect everyone who works in a service industry or place. As a librarian, we get a variety of “customer” behavior, but the nicest people are the ones I remember the best.

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  19. Respect and kindness often create ripples that travel far. People often remember a warm smile, a kind word, and good tips. This is a good topic to share and remind everyone how a simple gesture can go far.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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