The waitress supervising breakfast at the hotel was doing a great job of doing her job. The coffee pots and bread baskets were full. Dirty tables were promptly cleared, and not a single customer had complained that morning. She kept herself busy as the minutes to the end of her shift ticked by.
The couple from England who were visiting Australia for the first time stopped the waitress to ask her where the nearest cinema was. ‘I’m not sure,’ she said. ‘I’m not from around here.’ And in that moment the tourists’ impression of Australia and Australians lost some of its sparkle.
This isn’t just a story about the missed opportunity to serve. It’s also the story of the missed opportunity to find meaning and joy in being of service. The generous gesture (in this case a quick Google search) that costs nothing has the power to change not just the receiver, but the giver too. And when it’s withheld, it costs more than we realise to both giver and receiver.
Image by Kjell Eson