Last Valentines Day my wife and I went out to dinner. I think it might have been the first time in 17 Valentines Days together that we had actually gone out to a restaurant for a meal. This outing was a quick one because we had just dropped off the kids at a church program and we had a little less than an hour before we needed to pick them up.
With one kid in tow, we headed to a local Thai restaurant we like. As expected, the place was packed, making me nervous that our tight time frame might work against us. My anxiety continued to rise when the server didn’t come to take our order for the first 10 minutes. Finally, we ordered, and waited, and waited, and waited.
Did I mention the place was packed and there were only three people working? It was a little nuts, and we waited a little longer. With about 10 minutes left before we had to leave, the baby’s soup came out so at least he could eat. He slurped it down and enjoyed it. Our food came out just in time for my wife to take one bite and then box it up to go so that we could pick up the kids and get home.
Just to be clear, my wife and I are still on a 17-year streak of not eating out on Valentines Day. I consider what we did restaurant-centered-child-entertainment and a complex to-go order involving a server.
Why am I telling you all of this? I’m telling you because I was angry. I was so agitated at the slow service that I (embarrassingly) forgot to leave a tip in my rush to get out the door. But, really, I’m telling you this to pose this question. When is it ok to be unkind?
I wanted to be unkind to the server, or to the person that rung up my payment. I wanted to tell them I was in a hurry and that their lack of service was really disappointing. I wanted to tell them that I was going to give them a bad rating on yelp, or do some other silly thing to vent my frustration.
I didn’t do any of those things. Why? Because I don’t think it’s ever ok to be unkind. The staff at the restaurant did the best they possibly could. Just because their best didn’t fit with my needs at that moment didn’t give me license to be unkind to them.
Now, looking back, I’m glad I kept my mouth shut in silent protest. If I had said something in my frustration I would have been a jerk, and that’s not who I want to be.