Our family ate at Red Robin this weekend. While I often long for a quieter dining experience, Red Robin is a great family restaurant that does a good job serving children, and I appreciate that. This week the children’s menu included directions for an origami frog, which my husband and daughter made—carefully reading the instructions and following the fold diagrams.
Then my daughter and I started hopping the frog back and forth across the table. It hopped amazingly high, and we made it jump crayons, silverware and other assorted items. (Probably not the kind of table manners I should be teaching my child, but hey, when you’ve got an origami frog, you have to let it be a frog.)
We were in the middle of our hopping escapades when our server came to check on us. We explained we had made the origami frog on the menu, and he smiled. He took our requests for drink refills and when he came back he asked our daughter, “Would you like me to show you something that my dad taught me? How to make a flower from a napkin.”
And she watched, enchanted as he deftly rolled a paper napkin into a long stem rose with a single leaf.
“Hmm…that one is a little thick. I can do better with a smaller napkin.”
Our daughter was delighted with her gift of a rose. He came back later with a more practiced rose for her and told us a little more about his dad teaching him how to do this.
It was a simple gesture, but one that made my daughter’s night—a little extra attention, a story shared. Our server didn’t have to do that; he could have simply brought us our food and drink promptly with a friendly attitude, but instead he did a little extra.
Fuji is the same way. Every time we go in, there are pink parasols for glasses of milk and balloon animals on the way out. They take just a little extra time to make someone feel special. It doesn’t take much.
Usually this special treatment is initiated by my daughter. I have watched her work her magic many times, and it always starts with one simple greeting. She’s even done it in church—sharing the peace as only she can do.
“Hi, I’m Y—. What’s your name?”
A simple introduction followed by a simple question “What’s your name?”
Have you noticed how we often fail to call use each other’s names? How wonderful it is when someone a server, a bank teller, a physician, uses your name. You become something more than just a featureless face, and account number or a chart; you become a person. It’s a simple act of kindness and respect to call someone by name.
My daughter recently told me that she does not like to be called “kid” or “kiddo”, no matter how lovingly. She doesn’t want to hear “Good night, kiddo. I love you.” She wants to hear her name.
I think that by asking a person’s name and then naming that person in return, we show them respect. We help make them more human, more identifiable. When we do that, we create an opportunity for kindness, smiles, laughter and other good things. We also open ourselves up to that other person. In naming them we give a name to their story, in giving them our name, we become part of their story.
When we become part of someone’s story, it becomes very difficult to judge or hate.
“Hi, I’m Michele. What’s your name? Will you be a part of my story?”
©2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.