Getting the Grinch Out

It was Christmas Eve. I decided weeks ago to take myself out to dinner and treat myself to a seafood dinner. In my world, this was indeed a treat – a gift to myself for Christmas.

I got dressed up and drove myself to the restaurant. Rather than sitting in the family section, which I know would trigger issues for me, I sat by myself at the far side of the bar, and sat down in time for kick-off.

I ordered the seafood special and a sparkling water – I was after all my own DD – and waited patiently for the meal I had been savoring for weeks.

My food arrived and it was then that it happened. The waiter told me that he came to his shift without eating and that he was jealous of my food. That’s when the Grinch showed up. I was livid. This wait staff had just crossed the line. As a waiter, you never beg for a customer’s food. You never insert yourself into their dining experience.

For the next hour, while I should have been thoroughly enjoying my delicious meal, my internal Grinch kept dreaming up letters to the manager… how best to help this waiter know how he ruined my $50+ Christmas Eve gift to myself.

I wasn’t going to tell him directly. No, a letter to the manager was best. I have become more cautious. I didn’t know the waiter enough to tell him how offended I was by his behavior in a way that wouldn’t trigger him. If he was brazen enough to almost beg for my food, then what would stop him from spitting into my dessert or take my name and information off the credit card when he processed it. So I chewed on the draft of my letter as I chewed on my food, fueled by the adrenaline rush from watching the football game. I started feeling righteous and right.

Then on the way home, it dawned on me. There was another route I could take…With an open heart, in the letter to the manager, I could send the waiter $10 so that he could get himself something to eat before the next shift. Or better yet, I realized that I could have invited him to take a break and share the plate with me.

Wow. The power of that thought…of knowing there was another option… of choosing the road less traveled…Like never before, that thought taught me the meaning of Christmas. The meaning of love. It showed me that simply changing my thoughts on how I could respond to the way this person treated me put me at peace. That’s when Christmas became real to me this year.

After all, I realized on the road home, here was this other human soul being totally honest with me about his level of hunger and that I had the power to help him or hurt him. It was really that simple. The rules of waiting really didn’t matter.

I didn’t help him at all this time. But next time, I will know better. I will do better.

I love being a life-long learner. I really do. I realize more and more that to keep learning, I don’t always need to open a book. Most often, I just need to open my heart.

When does your Grinch show up? How do you “Cindy Loo Who” it?

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