Monday, November 14, 2011

I might have been wrong

Two years ago, I used to work in a Kosher little cafe. I worked there for over a year and built myself quite a reputation as the nice girl behind the counter, who always had a smile for you and something nice to say. I met people there, got asked out more times then I care to remember (actually, that is where I met the bad boy) and created some useful connections. I should have started blogging then, when I had so much to say about the behaviors I observed in the Jewish community.

Well it is not to late to share, especially since there is a follow up to the story I am about to tell.

There used to be a woman who used to come in every so often. Every time she came, we, as in all of us  behind the counter, used to roll our eyes. We weren't mean, we just knew from experience that something was about to blow up in our face. And indeed, within three minutes, she would be yelling at us for being rude and having her wait till we finish with the customer who was being helped. So by consensus, every time she came in, she was my customer. I was known to be firm but nice with customers so i could manipulate them in being happy or contempt with their experience. Till this day,she is the only customer with whom I have failed. I was always very close to asking her how she'd react if it was her daughter (who used to come in frequently as well) behind the counter being treated the way we were being treated by her.
Thank g-d I kept it to myself.

Fast forward a year and a half later... My friend and I show up to our Friday night meal by a family we enjoy eating at. There, we are introduced to a lovely family: mother, father and five children, all very polite, friendly and well adjusted to life. As the night goes on, I start feeling this increasingly annoying feeling that I know one of the girls from somewhere. And so I tell her: "you look familiar, maybe from.... (fill in coffee shop)?" As I ask her, the reality hit me. I did know her from there and I knew who she was because I could never forget the mother. For a second, I felt uncomfortable with the memories I was remembering, especially since it did not match the woman I was introduced to that night. But I went on and told her I remember she owned a red coat. Everyone at the table laughed at me for remembering such a trivial detail, but if only they knew what else I remember....

Now I wonder, was the mother going through something at the time that made her so irritable and unpleasant (scenario repeated itself over a few months) while she really is an amazing person? Or is she one of those woman who believes that if i'm behind a counter she is better then me, but if we're sharing a table we're then equal?

I'd like to judge her favorably and assume she wasn't being herself, or maybe we were irritating in her eyes and that she is different then all the other customers who seemed fine with us.

Anyways, thank g-d I kept quiet because today, she is helping me set up my older sister :)


  1. Sometimes it pays to keep our thoughts to ourselves and have the opportunity to interact at a different level later, with no extra baggage from the old deli.

  2. As a caterer I see that attitude all the time. What was sad about it was, that i often dealt with people whom i had grown up around and known all my life, but seeing the way they tried treating me or / and my workers made me lose all respect for them. Its sad. Frum people have this thing when it comes to the food business, how often did a frum person tip you? Il bet almost never! for some reason most frum people, although demanding a ton from the people serving them do not have the common decency to tip. (Ok, i may have been generalizing a bit, but in my time in the business its something which i have seen far too often....)

  3. It's very nice of you to try to judge favorably, but I'd rather learn a lesson of how not to act (so that at least something good can come of this awful story). It's not okay to be rude anywhere, for any reason-- smart people know that being firm but nice is more effective and Chilul Hashem is serious! I work in a mostly gentile environment, and have been told numerous times by coworkers that before meeting me and the few other lovely Orthodox Jews who work with me, they thought "we" were all rude/snobs.
    And if she did think you were beneath her because you were behind the counter: "If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals" (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire :) don't laugh, it's TRUTH).
    Of course, your reaction, keeping quiet and remaining friendly, is the proper reaction, and I hope Hashem rewards you and your family for it.

  4. @the professor: the tip thing does not bother me as much as general manners. Where I come from, peopple dont know about tiping so I always assume they dont or they plainly cant afford it. 9that wud be me)

    I really dont know why there was such a disparate in her personality, thats what bugs me

  5. Tipping shows on the manners. The actual money in tipping never meant much to me, to some of my staff however it did. The fact that frum people dont tip is a complete lack of manners. It has more to do with lack of mentshlichkeit than it does lack of money.

    The disparity in her personality was that when you are behind the counter she thinks she can boss u around b/c "the costumer is always right" and if she didnt like something u did she could go running to ur boss. She therefore thinks she can treat you however she so pleases. when ur a "regular person", not behind a counter and "at her level" shell be nice. (Ok, as i dont know her i probably shouldnt say all that, but i deal with many such people on a daily basis and it drives me nuts. I deal with it on a higher level cuz when someone treats a worker of mine like trash and the worker responds in a way that they dont like, the customer comes running to me. I then have to give them the whole speech i just gave that they think my workers are inferior to them).

  6. Very good post. It shows that you were the 'mensch,' in not bringing up her former behavior.
    And look--you see the good that came out of that encounter? Mitzvah goreret mitzvah...