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Author Topic: Not every party is a "party"  (Read 8904 times)

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Not every party is a "party"
« on: September 20, 2008, 07:09:52 PM »
Thought I'd share something that happened recently of the "Interesting Assumption" sort.

My husband and I (were) are quite active as volunteers in education at our local zoo, and also as mentors for our teen volunteers, acompanying them on many of their environmental and other community action events, as well as being their friends and role models. We are very close to, and very proud of, these kids. This past July, my husband died suddenly the morning after he turned 57. I held his memorial service at the zoo on what would have been our 26th anniversary and the kids turned out to help in force.

Following the service some of the kids approached me and asked if I would be willing to let them take me to dinner. I knew that they had all had to make arrangements with their parents to do this, and the family hadn't actually said anything about getting together afterward, so I agreed. There were about 20 of us, mostly dressed in somber black. One of the kids had made "reservations" at a local chain restaurant (that turns out not to take reservations, but, hey - he's a kid - we can lie about that, right?) It was too late to make other arrangements for 20 people, so we waited. After about 45 minutes they finally found enough tables to seat us. Not all together, they weren't prepared for that in spite of his "reservation", but at least we were all in the same vicinity of each other.

The kids were doing their best to keep my spirits up, reminiscing and telling stories, so there was some laughter. As I was admiring the locket they gave me with pictures of my husband and the two of us dancing together at one of the functions we chaperoned, the waiter comes over, takes one look and says "Wow! You guys are all having a great time, what're you celebrating?" After a pregnant pause, two of the kids chimed in simultaneously that "we're celebrating her husband" (indicating me). He looked at me puzzled, as I was the only adult present and obviously wasn't married to one of the kids. I smiled and explained that we'd just come from my husband's memorial service. And, the kids said "Yes. We're celebrating his life."

The poor guy looked like he'd just swallowed a frog. He stammered an apology and offered his condolences which I, of course, accepted. I have to say, after that we received probably the best service I've ever seen from this restaurant. As we were getting ready to leave he came over to offer his condolences again and he explained that he was really sorry if he'd caused me any pain - it was management policy that they were to ask what the celebration was when groups of people came in. He then said "I'm never asking tthat way again." And, I'll bet he doesn't.

BTW, the kids covered my dinner and tipped him well. Did I mention just how much those kids mean to me?


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2008, 07:27:39 PM »
First of all, I am very sorry for your loss.  Secondly, wow...what amazing kids!  I am stunned and teary-eyed as I read your post.  It is really nice to hear of teens/kids who are like this, especially since we mostly hear bad stories.  You are very lucky to have such a wonderful support system around you.  You must be SO proud to work with this kids.
Also...I give the server a pass....mostly because he was decent enough to be embarrassed about his comment and gave you great service and apologized again.  He won't do that again, I am sure. 

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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2008, 07:35:46 PM »
First, I'm sorry to hear about your husband.  You have my deepest sympathies.

Second, that poor waiter!  :o  Although the black should have been a tip-off, it may have just looked like you all came from sort of formal event.  I don't think he was rude; despite our best efforts, we will all make an bottom of ourselves eventually.  It seems like he was appropriately mortified.

Third, those kids sound amazing.  I felt a tear or two well up reading about how thoughtful they were.  Many adults wouldn't be able to show that kind of compassion and class, let alone teens.  I would be proud to know anyone of those young adults.

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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2008, 07:47:31 PM »
My condolences on the loss of your husband.

Personally, I think the waiter handled the situation just fine, and had no reason to be embarrassed. It was a perfectly valid question under the circumstances, and both you and the kids responded appropriately after some initial awkwardness.

I hope knowing what a positive influence your husband was brings you comfort as you mourn his passing.
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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2008, 08:06:24 PM »
Please don't anyone get me wrong. I think the waiter did just fine. I felt sorry for the poor guy. There was no way for him to know. Not even if he'd noticed, not only the preponderance of black, but the chain of men's wedding rings around my neck (my husband wore 2 - his and his fathers) along with the locket. After all, who would expect a group of 20 13-21 yr. olds to be hosting an after-funeral event?

Nonetheless, perhaps management should find another way for their wait staff to ask the question, or better yet, simply have them wait and see if anyone chooses to volunteer the occassion to them, or says something within their hearing that gives it away.

I'm sure if it's a birthday or something similar where perhaps, a complimentary cake or whatnot might be in the offing, someone will tell them. And, even for birthdays, not everyone wants the restaurant staff to surround their table singing and drawing attention to the fact - even if management does think they're doing something nice.


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2008, 08:22:58 PM »
It's obvious the affection goes both ways.    :)

I'm very sorry for your loss, but I'm so proud of those kids!  What a heartwarming story.


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2008, 08:52:43 PM »
You have my deepest sympathies for your loss.

Those are some classy kids - they do their parents proud.
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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2008, 10:31:00 PM »
Aw, this was a touching post. :)

My condolences for your loss. And wow, those kids are incredible - we sure could use more like them.


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2008, 10:36:39 PM »
I'm so sorry for your loss.  But the kids were wonderful!
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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2008, 08:26:41 AM »
I'm sorry for the loss of your husband. 


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2008, 02:51:07 PM »
I'm sorry for your loss.  It's great that the kids you and he have done so much for were able to come through for you.

I wanted to mention that it is possible that the kid who said he made reservations actually did.  I have called restaurants to make reservations, had the person on the phone take all the info., and then been told when we got to the restaurant that it doesn't take reservations.  Doesn't happen all the time but it has happened more than once.


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2008, 09:09:54 AM »
Well, he could have said "What's the occasion?", Then offered his condolences.

I feel bad for that waiter.  He meant well.


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2008, 09:18:56 AM »
My condolences
 - and at the same time, my congratulations on having been such a great chaperone for those kids, it's obvious they love you and your husband was a very important person in their lives.

I think the kids did an amazing job - as did you. I feel sorry for the waiter and think he did the best he could after the initial blunder, I'm sure you're right, he'll never ask it quite that way again, and most likely he'll have told his colleagues who now also know to be more careful. Kudos to you for being kind and understanding to him despite your own pain.


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2008, 11:05:37 AM »
1) I'm so sorry to hear about your husband.

2) What great kids!

3) I've been there. When my grandfather died, the family flew with him to the town my dad grew up in so that he could be buried next to my grandmother. (None of us lived in that town any longer.) We got in that evening, and by the time we checked into the hotel, we were all starving. We asked, and they said that a chain steakhouse was nearby and would be open for another hour. Since this was late on a weeknight, there were very few people in the restaurant.

We were all punchy and tired from the travel and the emotions, so we got kinda loud. And silly. One of the waitresses (who had been very attentive) asked if we were from that town. We told her that we weren't. She asked what we were there for, since we seemed to be having such a good time. We all looked at each other, laughed, and explained that we were there for a funeral. She was horrified, but we were just amused. It made for a nice memory of a tough day.


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Re: Not every party is a "party"
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2008, 12:12:42 PM »
I am glad that you had true compatriots of both you and your husband at dinner.

The waiter was doing as he was trained to do, and will, I swear, for the rest of his life remember this and NEVER make this mistake again.

Bravo to the teenager that responded "We are celebrating Mr. XX"

Your post brought me to tears and I want to send a big HUG you.  If you need anything please PM.  I know about losing a husband at a young age, I just wish we had been as great as you and yours.

eta: "wish" ...yeah..that belonged in there.  Missed it for my tears. Hugs again