We’ve been bopping around the South, avoiding and running from ice and snow for two weeks now. We came down 75 into Georgia right in front of the ice, made it out of Missouri running from the snow and are heading East, back to Ohio just before Illinois gets hit with a late winter storm. We’ve been lucky, and George has planned his trips well. Storm running has caused us to have to sit in a couple of places for longer than we usually do, so truck stops have been temporary homes the past couple weeks.
I’m going to preface this story with a disclaimer that if I worked in a truck stop and had to put up with some of the bull I see, I’d probably not make it very long as a trusted employee (or without catching a case). That being said, I’m always so thankful for the employees who take it in stride and continue to smile. The difference between someone treating you like a human or not can really set the tone of your day.
I’ve know George Parker 21 years and have never seen him leave a table without a tip – until we had the misfortune of having possibly the worst waitress in the history of waitresses at the Denny’s in the Flying J in Tallahassee, Fla. She had two tables – there were only six seated in the whole restaurant. We waited 15 minutes for her to take our order, and when the food came, she slammed the plates on the table and we never saw her again – until she brought the check. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, I know, but when it’s the only hot meal you’ve had all day, it really sucks when someone ruins it with bad service. George ended up flagging the other waitress down to get the refills and items missing from our orders – he also tipped her and left nothing for the one who had our table. She was awesome, and running damage control, but it still made the mood of the evening tense. It didn’t help that there wasn’t a manger on duty to speak with, but we got over it and sullied forth.
On the flip side of the coin, we stopped at the Pilot in Troy, Ill., last night. It was our final night on the road before we stop at home to re-stock, see our kids and animals, and roll out again. We were tired and ready to be home – the last night out is always the hardest for me.
We walked into Arby’s and were greeted with one of the smilingest kids I’ve ever seen (see above). He was thoughtful and helpful and he just made my night better all around. I was thrilled by his customer service, and I told him so. The mood continued on through, into the actual store, where the manager, Kari, was taking care of the coffee island. She was also smiling, and helpful and just all-around friendly. I told her how much it meant to me to be treated like that and she seemed genuinely pleased. Even the cashier at the fuel desk (which is also another word for “hell”) was smiling. It was a trifecta of happy, helpful people and it made our last night away from home so much better.
We so appreciate the ones out there doing it right. Kudos to you and your staff, Kari. You’re doing good things without even knowing it – and we appreciate you!