Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Non Serviam!

When we first moved back to the Houston area four years ago, I was stunned by a waiter's greeting at a Chili's restaurant.

He said, "My name is X, and I'm going to help you out today."

I thought to myself, "Help me out?! This fellow wants me to think that he is doing me a favor by taking my order."

What was I expecting? I was expecting him to say, "Hello, my name is X. How may I serve you today?" or something to that general effect.

I recovered from the surprise, reassuring myself that this was an isolated incident. It wasn't. It has happened countless times since then with both male and female "servers".

Worse than the "help you out" greeting is the way they frequently treat you. It seems to correspond with the oft-repeated, "lex orandi, lex credendi"--the law of prayer is the law of belief. In other words, how you pray affects how you believe. In this case, don't expect attentive service if the server thinks that he is doing you a favor.

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand put my experience in perspective when she discusses the unwillingness to serve in The Privilege of Being a Woman:

One further deplorable consequence of this secularistic view is the claim that "service is degrading." It is viewed as antidemocratic. It is humiliating. Humility is a virtue that finds little favor in the secularistic world. It is only puzzled and confused by the words of Psalm 118:71: "it is good for me that I was humbled that I might learn your statutes." Once again, this error inevitably leads to a denigration of women whose mission traditionally has been to serve--following thereby our Lord who said, "I have not come to be served but to serve." How can anyone meditating on these words come to the conclusion that to serve, which is a form of love, is degrading? The most glorious title of the Holy Father was introduced by Gregory VII who called him servus servorum Dei (the servant of the servants of God), for authority is given to the pope, not for his personal advantage, but for the benefit of those confided to his care.

After reading that, I realized that the bad experiences I was having at restaurants were just another symptom of the secularization of society.

There is one place where my experience has been that every employee consistently offers to serve. Surprisingly, it is a fast-food establishment: Chick-fil-A. Even at the drive-through, the response is, "It is my pleasure to serve you at the window." At least that is my experience at the local franchise. Is it surprising to learn that the chain is actually closed on Sundays? On the company website, one of the FAQs is:

Q: What is the Corporate Purpose of Chick-fil-A?

A: To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

It is a great testimony.


Fotofule said...

Our local Chik Fil A is the same, staffed by wonderfully trained young people that actually seem to enjoy their jobs and the opportunity to serve the public. It's so refreshing to go through the drive-through and hear "My name is Seth. How my I help you today?"

Cay G. said...

The couple who owns the franchise in LC are fellow Catholic homeschoolers. I think they were with us when you lived here.

Wendy Haught said...

Yes, Cay, I remember the family, though the name escapes me right now.