The restaurant was busy. The patrons at the tables reflected the name of the restaurant and the cuisine it served. Our table was no different--all of us family folk with Indian origins.
The waitress, who seemed to be in her mid-twenties, handed us the menu. I noticed her nail polish, which was all in blue. Well, not all. The nails of all the fingers except one were in blue. And one nail had white with what I thought were some patterns.
It was a year or so ago that I noticed a young female student in one of my classes having one finger nail in a color that was different from all the other fingernails. She explained to me--yes, I was curious enough to ask about that in front of the entire class--about this fashion trend. Not that I always ask such questions publicly. Ahem, I know better. For instance, a few years ago, there was a male student in class with all his fingernails painted black. I did not ask him anything. I did not even convey to him that I had noticed it.
As we were well into eating, the waitress swung by the table to ask that annoying question that the wait-people always ask: "is everything ok?" At least, she did not add "guys" to that question. I did not tell her that my balding head was sweating from the spices and red chili. I did not tell her that the portions were way too huge.
"I am fascinated by your nail polish" is what I told her.
She smiled a wide smile. Her eyes lit up. She said quite a bit about her nails and the polish. After the waitress left, my cousin was curious and wanted to know why I made that comment. "Chumma" I replied with a shrug. "I felt that it would make her happy. If I can make a stranger happy with something as simple as that, well, why not?"
A waitress is a person, too. She might be rushing from table to table, doing the same job shift after shift, day after day. Maybe it is a temporary job until she moves onto something else. Maybe it is also her business, her career. To her, too, there is more to life than the mere wages and tips that the job provides them.
It was a similar experience at another restaurant that we went to the following day. No, it is not another nail polish story. It was a family owned business. When the young woman, who seemed to be the owner or a part-owner, came to pick up the plates and give us the bill--which I left to the others to pay, haha!-- I asked her "how did you decide to locate the restaurant here?"
She, too, like the waitress the previous night, smiled big time. And she said a lot about having come to this part of the country as a tourist and thinking that she and her family would love to live in a charming and scenic small town like that where they could run a restaurant. "We were confident that people will drive to this small town if we provided quality food and service" she beamed with pride.
Chances are high that I will never run into those women again. It is even more likely that they do not even remember any of these conversations. But, in the blip of a life we lead in this cosmos, for that fraction of a second, I think I made them feel a tad good about themselves. And I meant them well. With good food and good service, they certainly made my fraction of a second in this universe that much more enjoyable.
In our short lives, we meet plenty of people--most of them for very, very short periods. If every meeting, or at least most of those meetings, will only make us smile, imagine what a wonderful world this would be!