It has been some time since I have written anything for this blog and so now I have a backlog of topics to consider. The following experience occurred in late December, just prior to the holidays.
I was in Pinehurst, NC and I had some time before my next customer meeting so I decided to visit the Pinehurst Village Center (the quaint, historic shopping district) for lunch. I found a local restaurant that looked suitable, walked in, and was quickly seated by the hostess. Around the time I was placing my order, a family walked in and was soon seated at the table next to me. At first glance it appeared that this family consisted of a mother and four kids ranging in age from around 8 to 15. Even though I have kids, I have to admit that my first thought when I saw them sit at the table next to me was something to the effect of, “Well, there goes my nice, quiet lunch.”
Unfortunately, way more often than not, my experiences with families in restaurants recently have been not so thrilling, and with the age range of the kids in this family it seemed inevitable that something obnoxious would take place. Would the younger kids start punching each other? Would the teenagers ignore their mother and younger siblings in an effort to show how they were too cool to be seen with the family. Or even worse, would all of the kids pull smart phones, DSs, iPods, etc. out of their pockets so that the family would share an entire meal together without ever acknowledging each other’s existence. I have seen it all and I was sure I was going to see one of these scenarios or something similar this time as well.
I prepared to do what I usually do in these situations. I would keep to myself. I would try to enjoy my meal, read my newspaper, and ignore the likely shenanigans at the next table as best I could.
To my surprise nothing at all similar to any of the above scenarios developed with this family. It turned out that the family actually consisted of a mom, her three kids (two boys somewhere around 8 and 11, and a teenage girl probably about 15), and the daughter’s boyfriend (around 15 as well). The addition of the boyfriend could have really thrown the whole thing into a tailspin but again this was not the case. The whole family got along. They talked to each other. They treated each other and the others around them with respect. I did not see a single electronic device in anyone’s hand the whole meal. To me, the most endearing part of their meal was the fact that the waitress brought coloring pages and crayons to the table (probably intended only for the younger kids) and all four of the kids (even the teenagers and especially even the boyfriend) quietly colored prior to their meal being served.
It was so refreshing to see a family like this that was so well-behaved and present with each other out in public. I wanted to compliment this family – to let them know how impressed I was with them – but for some reason I never did. I think my silence was due mostly to the fact that the mother was probably around my age or maybe even a few years older. I guess I did not feel like I was enough of an elder statesman to pay her a compliment. I really wish I had complimented them though. People really need to hear positive comments. People SHOULD be told when they are doing something well – when they are making a difference.
I learned two valuable lessons from this experience.
1) I was reminded once again how it is better to avoid pre-judging – people, things, scenarios. In fact it is better to avoid judging in general.
2) I need to speak up and tell people when I am inspired or impressed by them. When I see someone doing something well, I need to let them know. Next time, don’t just walk away.
The experience with this family in Pinehurst inspired me to make a New Year’s resolution to make sure to openly express more gratitude. My experiences with working on this resolution will be discussed in future blog posts throughout the year.
Have you been pleasantly surprised by someone or something recently? If so, I would love to hear about your experience!