The bartender was new to his job in Canada. He was from Italy and spoke limited English. I found that out by asking him a few questions. Really nice guy. He was doing his best to learn the ins and outs of being a bartender. He was in training.
Two women at the next table ordered yam fries. I’m not sure if that is a popular menu item in Italy – perhaps not because he brought out French fries for them. The other bartender who was working alongside explained the difference graciously. But then the manager came out, guns blazing, and with a raised voice began belittling the Italian bartender in front of the other staff and customers. Loudly. “Don’t you know the difference between yam fries and French fries?” he hollered. “One is yellow and one is orange!” he stormed. It was embarrassing for everyone present and very unkind. I couldn’t take it.
I finished my beer but before I left, I asked to speak to the manager. After a few moments of waiting, he came out from behind the kitchen door.
“I have a complaint,” I said. He stared at me. “Yes, I have a complaint against you,” I added. He stared at me. “You have a new bartender in training, correct?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied. “He is from a different culture, correct?” I continued. “Yes,” he replied. “What you said to him in front of me and your staff is not acceptable,” I said. “You cannot treat someone like that,” I said. “My staff know me and how I operate,” he refuted. “No,” I said, “You cannot treat people like that,” I insisted. “I’m sorry,” he replied. “I’m not the one you need to say sorry to,” I added. “You need to apologize to him,” I said, pointing to his newest employee. He stared at me. “I’m not leaving until you go and apologize to that young man over there,” I held my ground. He looked at me as though I were crazy. “I’m not leaving!” I said, waiting for him to move. And he went and apologized.
You may say that it was not my place to interfere but when I see unkindness happen, I do speak my mind. Words can absolutely damage and destroy people and leave them deflated.
It’s not that different for a grieving person. Careless words that are not thought out can really have a negative impact on people and send them in a tailspin.
If you experience someone speaking words to a grieving person and you know they are hurtful rather than helpful, don’t be afraid to step in and say something.
A person who is grieving is weak. They might need your voice.