Disappointment on St.Thomas

 

Have you ever looked forward to a trip or dining in a trendy place only to be disappointed by the actual experience? It happened to us last year on a much anticipated vacation to St. Thomas Island. It was not our best beach vacation because it rained nearly every day.

One experience stands out. We searched out a café that bears the name of a favorite aunt. The New York Times listed it as a good place for breakfast—a fact proudly displayed in the tourist booklet and on a menu board at the door. Perhaps because our namesake is a gracious lady, we expected a warm reception.

After snapping a picture of me under the sign, Terry and I went inside where a regal matron escorted us to a tiny table for two in the corner. Could it be Ms G, herself? I watched her greet two regulars and seat them in a sunny spot, bringing them coffee and turning in their orders. Surely a server would arrive soon with our menus in hand.

Ms G refilled coffee cups across the room, engaged in witty banter with the men—all without a glance our way. Still no menus.

Had she forgotten us? 

When she delivered an order to a nearby table, I asked for a menu in what I considered a polite voice. Her curt reply, “In a FEW minutes, Miss,” stunned me. I can’t say why, but we didn’t leave. And when she was ready, she brought our menus. I asked for coffee, and we were prepared to order when she delivered it.

Although the food was probably good, I barely tasted it. I excused myself as soon as I could and went outside to wait while Terry paid the bill.

Having plenty of time to consider the affront, I mused about our treatment.

  •                   Perhaps the listing in The Times had gone to her head, giving her the feeling that we should feel honored to sit in her presence.
  • Perchance she had traced her ancestry to royalty and fancied herself a princess.
  • Maybe I reminded her of someone who had been unkind to her in the past.
  • Or every fifth customer might receive similar treatment.
     

I also thought of several pithy retorts I could have used, but I’m glad now that I didn’t think of them at the time. Afterwards when we pressed on to explore the shops nearby, the  folks we encountered were friendly.

Still, it took me a couple of days to shake off the effects of my encounter with Ms G. I suppose it was hurt feelings, along with the disappointment that we couldn’t give the picture of me standing beneath the sign bearing her name to our auntie without remembering our bad experience.

There’s no denying the sting when we’re ambushed by rude strangers. But it helps to remember that it’s usually not about us. They’re acting out of their pain, frustration or fear.
 
Upon reflection, I know Ms. G didn’t get up that morning with the idea of snubbing me or anyone else.  She was probably stretched too thin and lost track of us but couldn’t acknowledge she might be losing her ability to work the room seamlessly. And, yes, she might be a bit proud of that Times endorsement. Who wouldn’t be?

The warmth of the other encounters that day was like salve to my soul. In the future, I hope I remember to offer kindness to those who have stumbled upon a hidden hornet’s nest or stepped on a sand burr along life’s way.

Ms G’s identity will remain hidden to protect her in her woundedness.)


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Col. 3:12

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