Renewing Relationships Even When It’s Uncomfortable

(* day 18// wrtie31days)

(since first publishing this, I have updated it with  a few more details in order to clarify the story a bit more). 

Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone means giving someone a second chance. It’s hard when on principle you feel like you don’t agree with someone or a method of the way someone treated you, but time passes and you realize it’s time to try again.

For us it involved going back to a restaurant we hadn’t visited in about year, on principle. It’s going to be hard to explain this one without sounding uppity, but I’m going to try.

There’s this local taco place that we have frequented ever since we moved back to SA. We went there so much that the owner knew who we are and the wait staff welcomed us in like family. They seemed to really enjoy our children, and we really enjoyed their food.

Business had gotten better for this little joint, and with more business comes more money to replace old chairs and tables and give the place an uplift. Yay! That sounds awesome–we support local business growing and gaining success and popularity. And of course we enjoy sitting on more comfy cushions and chairs.

But sometimes with success comes the feeling that you want to protect your things instead of your people. And there came a particular moment when this came to a head, and the comfort of the clients was sacrificed in order to keep a pristine restaurant.

One early Saturday morning, the waitress uncomfortably asked Landis to sit in a booster seat instead of on the bench so he wouldn’t rip the bench. That might not sound like much, but when Luke kindly said, “Oh he’s fine. He’s too old for a booster and always sits like this now,” the waitress asked him to talk to the owner about it.

Luke actually didn’t want to go that far and talk to the owner about it, he didn’t want to cause a scene. But the waitress begged him to, because apparently, many customers had been put off by the new vibes up to that point, and the waitress really wanted the owner to hear it from us since we had been coming for so many years.

And really, for all those years previous, the restaurant had a 30 minute line outside the door just to get in. But at this point, it no longer had a line even in peak hours. The restaurant seemed to have lost its warmth and heart and the neighborhood seemed to have notice.

And the wait staff seemed to really want us to speak that to the owner, so that maybe she’d understand that with all this new “comfortable seating,” she was actually making more people uncomfortable. And when Luke finally agreed and went to the owner, she insisted that she needed to protect her new benches and she just couldn’t and wouldn’t understand what Luke was talking about.

Just to be clear, it wasn’t all about us not wanting to force our precious perfect child to sit in a booster. And it wasn’t about us being the kind of parents who let our children run wild through a restaurant and misuse people’s property. We want to teach respect for people’s things, and we definitely insist that our children take care of things and use appropriate behavior.

The reason we pursued this issue was because we were sad that her restaurant was changing from a place of comfort, where people and relationships and atmosphere are valued, into a place where things and prettiness were valued more than people.

(this balance is definitely hard to explain, so I hope you are getting my meaning)

We’ve all been to people’s houses where we felt like we can’t touch anything and our children can’t touch anything, where the owners seem on edge because they are worried about their things and concerned about messes, and you just overall feel uncomfortable and almost eager to get out of there so you can breathe.

And Luke was concerned that this sweet little place was going to do that for the customers–turn it into a place where people are valued less than things.

You may be thinking, “Well of course she wanted her benches not to get ripped, I’d feel that way too.” And I understand you, but the problem is the emphasis and the atmosphere–aren’t people and hospitality and comfort the priority?

I’m not at all talking about a “customer’s are always right” philosophy, but more that “people are more important than things.”

And I understand that this is challenging, in a day when there is tons of disrespect and business owner’s are constantly having to deal with the destruction that comes from people who don’t care about other’s hard-worked-for thing. So this concept is definitely a difficult one, for sure!

So, Luke took the kids and left that day without eating, and he wasn’t angry or huffy, but just sad that after all those years of relationship building, it had come down to whether or not her seat got ripped.

Fast forward to present day…

The kids have been missing that place and asking to go back. And after repeated pleas, we finally decided to give it another chance.

We were kind of nervous to enter the place again, because it’s uncomfortable. Just like it’s uncomfortable to go up and talk to the person you had to confront about something. It’s just awkward and weird. But once you do it, it sort of breaks the ice and makes room for relationship building again.

But that’s what this month is for (and hopefully it’s the start of something)–to embrace things that my comfortable self would initially step back from.

So it was good. It felt oddly normal, like we hadn’t missed any time at all there. We didn’t interact with the owner, but I definitely noticed a pleasant surprised look on one of the waitress’s faces, and it felt good to be gracious and show someone with our actions that we value them enough to give them another chance.

I know not everyone will have the same philosophies and values as we do, but we feel so strongly about this principle, that relationships come first. It’s hard to put into practice, it’s hard to see your pretty breakables broken, it’s hard to have a ripped couch because of people’s rough kiddos, but building relationships with people is so much better.

And I have to constantly remind myself of this, seriously. Because I can get to where I cling to my things so much that I get selfish with them and focus on preserving my things to the extent that I’m ignoring the people in my life. And this is where we have to push ourselves past what’s comfortable.

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