I didn’t pay attention to him at first, because I just wanted a place to wait with nobody bothering me.
With my wife shopping in another part of the store, I put my head down and stared at my phone like we all do.
Less than a minute later, the restaurant employee worked to my attention from the other side of the room.
“Can I help you with something, or do you just need a place to sit,” he asked me politely from behind the counter. He was a clean-cut young man, one that I used to attend the same local LDS ward with for a time. I vaguely remembered he was a married student pursuing some sort of degree at BYU-Idaho, but not much else.
I motioned that I was fine and returned to my phone, struggling to set up an email account with little success.
It was several minutes later before I noticed him again, efficiently wiping down walls behind me.
“Do you need me to move,” I asked.
“No, you’re good,” he said with a smile, moving around to the other side of my table.
He was so polite to me and I didn’t deserve it. Despite all the blessings showered upon my family, despite all the good people I had met and the miracles I had seen, my spiritual tanks were running low tonight.
It wasn’t too much later when the employee asked about my employment prospects. He knew that I had been unemployed for five months, but didn’t know much about the acrimony that never seemed to let up.
I told him about my new job and how I would be leaving for Oregon in less than a week.
After he offered congratulations, he looked at me.
“I know it probably hasn’t been easy for you here,” he said. “When I first saw you in church, I noticed how much energy you had to live the gospel. That really made an impression on me.”
I smiled, mumbled thanks and he returned to his duties.
I tried but couldn’t concentrate on anything else except what he said.
Before I left, I walked across the room and motioned for him to come out of the back.
“Remind me what you’re studying,” I said to him. He was working his way toward becoming a lawyer.
“Thanks for what you said,” I told him.
It hasn’t been easy here at times, I said. In fact, it’s been incredibly hard. “But your comment means a lot to me,” I said.
After shaking hands, I walked out of the restaurant with a smile and more energy.
All because of some of the best customer service when I needed it the most.