To the woman and child who sat at table 9

To the woman and child who sat at table 9

I did not introduce myself to you. My name is Tony Posnanski. I have been a restaurant manager for fifteen years now.

My day consists of making sure my restaurant runs well. That could mean washing dishes, cooking and sometimes even serving tables. I have also dealt with every guest complaint you can imagine.

A few weeks back you came into my restaurant. I was very busy that night. I was running around helping the kitchen cook food. I was asked to talk to a table close to yours. I did and they said your child was being very loud. I heard some yelling while I was talking to that table. I heard a very loud beep from a young girl.

I started to walk to your table. You knew what I was going to ask. You saw the table I just spoke to pointing at you. I got to your table and you looked at me. You wanted the first word. You said…

“Do you know what it is like to have a child with Autism?”

You were not rude when you asked the question. In fact, you were quite sincere. Your daughter could not have been more than five years old. She was beautiful and looked scared that I was at the table. She looked like she thought she was in trouble.

In fifteen years I do not have a lot of memorable moments as a restaurant manager. I remember some guests who were mad that their burger was not the way they wanted it. I remember a woman who called corporate on me because she said I gave her a regular Coke instead of a Diet Coke. I remember having to cut people off from drinking alcohol and I remember having to tell tables to have their child be quieter.

However, I do remember everything about the day my son was born. How I cried when I heard him cry. How I stood there and told him I would do anything for him and be the best father possible. I remember the day I married my wife. How I cried and promised to be the best husband possible. I remember the day my daughter was born. I did not cry that day. I was just so relieved because I lost a child two years earlier.

I know what I was supposed to say when I went to your table. I was supposed to politely tell you to please not have your daughter yell.

I was supposed to offer to move you to another area. I was supposed to offend you by not offending you…

I did not do any of that.

Instead I just told you I hoped your meal was awesome. I high fived your daughter and then I told you that your meal was on us tonight. It was only sixteen dollars. It meant more to me than that. I do not think the other guests I spoke to were happy about it. At that moment it did not matter to me.

I do not know how you reacted. I had to leave to go cook because the kitchen was not doing very good that night. When the server asked me why I bought the food I just said you did not enjoy your steak. I did not tell anyone what you said to me. I was thankful you did say it to me though.

You asked me a question that I did not answer.

The truth is I do not know what it is like to have a child with Autism.

I know what it is like to be a father. I know what it is like to be a husband. I know what it is like to not tell his wife how much he loves her enough. I know what it is like to want to spend more time with his children.

You asked me the question right away. You have been through this before in other restaurants. I did not want to be like other managers for one moment. I did not want to tell you what you always heard.

Honestly, I wrote this to you and your beautiful daughter because I wanted to thank you both.

You have given me a great restaurant memory. One that I needed for the last fifteen years.
You also taught me a valuable lesson…

Sometimes doing the right thing does not make everyone happy; just the people who need it the most.

Tony Posnanski

Source: Suspended Coffees

 Kindness cartoon

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  1. I remember a parallel story about passengers on a subway car who were getting annoyed because there were two small boys being rather noisy, running up and own, and generally being disruptive while their (apparent) father ignored them. One person eventually approached the father and told him to keep his boys under control and they clearly lacked self discipline. The father was very apologetic and explained that his wife, their mother, had just died in hospital and he was trying to workout how to tell the boys when they got home. He then apologized again. Soon the other passengers in the subway car went very quiet.

    It always comes down to never pre-judging / never assuming doesn’t it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for giving me something to think about the next time i get irritable at children being annoying at a restaurant. There are probably mothers who just need a night out regardless of how unruly their children might be. Some restaurants seat families in the same area as other families with children but I’m sure it isn’t easy. Yours is a thankless task, I’m glad for this warm fuzzy for you. You showed remarkable restraint in not going back to the complainer offering explanations. Kudos!👏

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! This story pulled at the strings of my heart. I love the choice of words to convey a mundane matter, which was handled wonderfully. Some memories are eternally etched in our minds, this is one of them. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Unmeasured Journeys and commented:

    Have you ever read something and just wanted to share it with everybody?

    Several weeks ago I stumbled across a story that I knew I wanted to share when the time was right. Today feels like the day.

    I can’t even begin to wrap words around all the reasons why I absolutely love it, but the one that struck me the most, will probably be the one that would be the least noticed.

    Being a miracle momma myself, I tend to be drawn to stories similar to this one, where some kind individual sort of straps on the sun’s rays and blares sunlight into what could otherwise be some moments where heartache gets tucked into pockets and tears get stained on cheeks in those moments when no one is looking.

    Autism or not, me and my Lunch Counter mommas can relate to her experience that night in the restaurant. Even if ours occurred under different circumstances, say the grocery store or perhaps the mall, we get it. We may not wear the same shoe size, but we can still fit right into those shoes.

    What truly struck me about this story is something that until five years ago I wouldn’t have paid much attention to.

    But, here it is: He’s a manager.

    Why would I notice? Well, my husband has been a manager for the past five years. When he accepted the position, I had no idea what the job would entail.

    While there are a lot of positives, I certainly didn’t understand the commitment, the long hours, the time he’d have to be away from us, the pressure of trying to be everything under one simple title, all the days when the complaints seemed to outnumber the compliments.

    When I got down to the where the author mentioned being a father and a husband and wanting to spend more time with his children, my heart ached ever so slightly because I knew that my husband could relate.

    And, that even though he’d never even read this story, he would be able to slip right into those shoes.

    I hope you like it too.


  5. What a beautiful story Tony and such a valuable lesson for all of us. Emotional, raw, honest, such kindness in a world that desperately needs it. Love this so much. Thank you for sharing with us.


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