Yesterday I visited a local eatery that, frankly, had mediocre food and service at best. That part wasn’t so bad. It was what happened afterward that got my goat.
I told the server that I didn’t care for the dish. I should have known from his response - a wince and not offering an alternative - that trouble was brewing. It was a weird response, and I just asked if I could order something else. Upon further reflection, I decided I’d just go elsewhere. I asked the server to bring my bill and finished up my (blah) appetizer. What seemed like 40 minutes later, my check came and to my surprise the meal I had not eaten and did not like appeared on the bill.
Now, this may seem normal to some diners, but for this woman who eats at least 33% of her meals in restaurants, this was bizarre. I was taken aback and sure the server had misunderstood me; I clarified with him that I didn't want the dish and didn’t plan to eat it. That’s the first time I heard, “It’s our policy to charge you for what you order…” Now, you may not know me but telling me anything is POLICY is akin to setting my blood on full boil. My response to this was, “I am not paying for this.” He got a manager. She, too, told me all about their policy and cried poor because they’re a “specialty vegan restaurant.”
Um, if you’re going to run a restaurant it’s best not to make the cost of ingredients (or anything) the customer’s problem. You build inventory and shrink into your business model and pricing. Clearly this place forgot to account for the cost of satisfying customers. They don’t seem to be in business for others. I won’t be going back. End rant.
This story doesn’t get better, as I walked out without paying for my meal (which I have never done and would normally never do but I was livid) and this person following me out the door, practically to my car, threatening to call the police and telling me that I committed theft. I’m ordinarily calm, but this situation triggered EVERYTHING in me. I felt powerless, I felt stupid, I felt taken advantage of, I felt stunned…and my response showed all of that. I failed to stand my ground and ended up paying for a meal that I didn’t like, didn’t eat, and didn’t feel was worth the price. (BTW, I hate coconut curry more now than ever.)
The “lower” self (ego) in me wants to get all up in arms and blame and argue and justify and blah, blah, blah. I was so upset last night that I wished this person would experience a season of sorrows for “what she had done to me.” The thing is . . . I knew I had attracted this experience for some reason and I knew that wishing ill upon someone else wasn’t creating good karma for me, so I did my best to do as they say in Frozen and LET IT GO. I’m still working on it, if that wasn’t obvious. It’s not as though I slept well after that sh*t show.
Alas, “their behavior doesn’t dictate mine” must take over and so I chose to see things differently. We call shifts in perception “miracles,” so I had one.
The “higher” Self (Spirit) in me asked, “What did you learn?” Do you want to know what I learned? I learned how painful and stunning it is to be met by my own lack of kindness. I learned how much it hurts when I do things with which I don’t agree. I learned that this person showed me the trauma that I cause myself when I am rigid and refuse to listen to my needs and preferences. This came a quick 20 hours later, so I consider myself fortunate to have heard all of this. Let’s hope it sticks.
Let me recap:
I met with a person yesterday who lacked compassion and kindness. At first I saw her as outside of myself, and then I realized she was a part of me that I’d disowned. At this point I realized how hurtful I am when I allow this part of me to act up and act out…and I decided to exercise more kindness and compassion toward myself. By doing this, I fully believe I’ll be more kind and compassionate toward others. And isn’t that how we create world peace, one interaction at a time?
As for these people and this establishment, I’m going to follow Yoga Sutra I.33:
By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
I’d rather be at peace than at war, so that means disregard for this place and these people. And that’s how we do yoga off the mat. I’ll keep practicing, since I haven’t reached enlightened and totally chill status yet. ;)