Monday, September 16, 2013

Being Reflections of One Another

Today is Monday, September 16, 2013.

"Be a reflection of what you'd like to see in others.  If you want love, give love.  If you want honesty, give honesty.  If you want respect, give respect.  You get in return what you give."  -Anonymous

Good old Anonymous is at it again.  Another great quote. I like this one because it's positive and pro-active.  

It's true that if we want to see a reflection of ourselves, all we have to do is look at the people who surround us.  Sometimes we see a quality that we'd rather not acknowledge, but when we do acknowledge it, we have the power to change it.   We, in turn, are reflections of others.  The part that a lot of people miss is that we have control over the situation.  All we have to do is decide to be mindful about what we think, do, and say.

As long as we're here in the physical plane, we will always be "imperfect."  There will always be times when we fail to handle situations in the most graceful way.  Life will happen, and we will encounter situations that inspire fear and generate anger in us.  The trick is to get in the habit of stepping back and refusing to allow ourselves to react to things without thinking them through. I'm not suggesting that we all sit and ponder every little thing that comes up, but particularly when anger and fear are involved, it's important to gt in the habit of waiting a beat before responding.   

Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?   

I've known people – including myself – who have justified actions that were less than exemplary with these three questions, but if we are truly honest with ourselves when we answer these questions, we can avoid doing and saying things that will make a bad situation worse. 

Recently in the news, there was a story about a waitress at a well-known seafood chain restaurant who was refused a tip by a patron.  The patron, who charged his purchase, wrote a two-word note on the bill on the "tip" line, including a racial slur. The waitress, a 19-year-0ld nursing student, took a photo of the charge slip with her phone camera and when she went home from work, she posted it on Facebook.   The meal charge was $45, so the waitress was expecting a large tip.  15% would have been $6.75, and 20% would have been $9. 

I'm not defending the restaurant patron for his racial slur – that was uncalled-for.  I can understand the anger that the waitress felt.  I would have been angry, too, if I were in her place.  However, I question the wisdom of putting the photo of the bill with the derogatory note on the Internet.  

The restaurant reacted by suspending the waitress with pay, but reports that she was fired have escalated the anger of all who feel that the patron's action was unconscionable, and made the waitress into a kind of martyr for the cause of racial equality.  The restaurant is trying to investigate to find out what really happened.  The "suspension days" have not actually caused the young woman to miss any work, so the "with pay" stipulation has no real meaning, since the waitress wasn't scheduled to work during the suspension period, and reportedly, the waitress has not been taken off the work schedule.

The restaurant's reaction is understandable, as they know that if patrons are made angry, they will not come back, and they may choose to sue the restaurant.  They also know that they need to keep their waitstaff happy, or they will quit.  Naturally, the patrons win, since they are the source of the restaurant's profit. 

The waitress and her father, who posted the photo his daughter took on his own Facebook page, said that their reason for posting in social media was to make people aware.  That's understandable, too.  However, if they are honest with themselves, they will have to admit that they are also angry, and that they wanted to punish the patron who wrote the note.  While the waitress' anger is understandable, she could have handled the situation another way.  She certainly didn't have to post a photo of the customer's bill online.  

Looking at the situation from a spiritual point of view, even though a person's anger is understandable, given the cause, the hard fact is that it is never OK to lash out in anger with the intent to punish.  Sure, if the waitress had made her comment on Facebook without a photo, and if she had simply stated that she was refused a tip by a racist patron, she could have gotten her point across, although admittedly, it might not have had the "punch" she wanted to convey.  

I was surprised to note that this young woman is not the only waitress who has posted a negative comment about her patrons on Facebook.  A waitress in North Dakota posted a photo of herself holding a sign that suggested Native American patrons who dined at the restaurant during "pow wow weekend" were not good tippers.   That waitress and one other employee were fired over the incident.   

Another waitress in Oklahoma posted a photo of three police officers who had been patrons at the restaurant, calling them "stupid cops."   What was she angry about?  Well, it appears that her toddler was visiting Grandma's house, when the child pulled down his pants and urinated in the front yard.  A passing police officer gave her a $2,500 "public urination" ticket.  The police chief later apologized, dropped the charges, and fired the officer who issued the ticket. That was apparently not good enough for this waitress.  The woman's post went viral and was featured on the local news, after which viewers began to call for the waitress to be fired.   The restaurant complied.   Since the ticketing incident had occurred a year before the Facebook post, the officer who issued the ticket was not one of the men in uniform pictured on the waitress' Facebook page.  The woman was unable to let go of her anger over the ticketing issue, and she has now generalized her anger toward all police officers.  I imagine she feels anger now toward the restaurant and the viewers of the local news, as well, and I'll bet she feels good and sorry for herself.

A few years ago, a waitress in North Carolina was obliged to work an hour past her normal quitting time to serve some lunch patrons who had stayed for three hours.  They left a $5.00 tip.  The amount of the bill was not disclosed in the report.  She was also fired for posting a rant on Facebook.  The young woman said at the time that she had only about 100 friends, all of whom she knew, and that her page was "private" so that only friends could see it.  That would mean, of course, that one of her "friends" turned her in to her employer. 

In all of the incidences, the people involved were mirrors of each other's anger, racial hatred, greed, and thoughtlessness.  The waitresses all made the mistake of taking their anger public.  :-/

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