An Encounter With A Lady In The Restaurant

by Chua Han Au

She stood there, seemingly frail. She donned a granite-coloured uniform that accentuated her melancholy. Her hair was tied up in a messy yet traditional bun which proved her of her skills. She took orders and was evident that she was a tyro — she held her pen in a way similar to that of a child handling chopsticks. Unstable. Foreign. She repeated the orders in an eccentric accent which was rich with the essence of her home town. She was perhaps a typical village woman yesteryear.

“Excuse me!” was the silent call of a hand.

She rushed over to a table with a lady that strutted her way previously into the restaurant. The latter, full of herself, announced her orders hastily. Clearly, she was void of respect for the waitress at first sight. The vulnerable and seemingly inferior waitress was fazed and jotted the orders with much trouble — her pen shook as she transcribed the orders, trying her best not to forget any.

“That’s all,” she concluded, full of conceit.

Before she could repeat the orders, she tallied them once again lest she misses out on any. One. Two. Three.

1 Alfredo

1 Caesar Salad (with a slight Thousand Island dressing)

1 Chocolate éclair (to be served only after the last dish) …

she enunciated, stressing on each syllable with a considerable amount of effort, after which she gave her thanks and left. Relieved. Over. First.

After keying in the orders, she then returned to her usual position — near the kitchen. She looked around and noticed the kids that were enjoying themselves at a nearby table. They held dinosaurs and roared adorably.

Her eyes exuded a sense of motherly love and she inevitably smiled. It wasn’t a smile that was masked with intentional motives or a smile that was ostentatious to show off her perfect set of white teeth.

It was genuine.

She reached into her pocket and took out a discoloured photograph which I reckoned was the portrait of her family. She’s a mother. A mother who had so bravely left her home town to earn a living, only to find herself being surrounded by happy families, wealthy yet phony individuals.

Could she have come to the right place?

We are also someone’s son or daughter trying to get by, or we are trying to get by for a son or daughter of our own. So consider taking a quick walk in their slip-resistant shoes the next time when your server approaches your table. In case you aren’t aware, they’re servers, not servants.

Perhaps, by treating everyone a little better, you might enjoy your meal a little more.