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You Need to linger

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They joke and say “Put it on my tab”.
Some smile, some smell,
and some bring their children.

Everyone that comes is different.
It’s the intriguing ones that stand out.
The woman and her elderly mother
who come every week and ask for pasta.
The couple with their backs as bent as question marks
who share a meal together after Saturday night mass.
The teenagers who push each other around
and ask for dessert, pretending they haven’t had any yet.

It’s not about efficiency,
it’s about making an impact.
You need to converse, and wait,
and linger.

When you ask if they want the salad
and they say yes,
pause a moment and let them ask you if you have a cat.
And then they’ll tell you about their’s.

When you ask the man with only one front tooth
if he wants more coffee
let him tell you about how his mother always drank her coffee black.

The people you serve are individuals
not checkmarks on your community service log.
They come in for the company, not the food.
They have loved ones and troubles and memories.
They have stories,
they’re just too shy to tell you straight away.

Linger and listen.



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