Monday, March 31, 2008

Self Perception

Last night my husband and I went to a restaurant that we had not visited for months. The reason for the lapse had nothing to do with the cuisine; indeed, the said restaurant is our favourite fleischig restaurant in the area. When we walked in, the place was a zoo, which I attribute to our now being firmly in the "pre-Pesach" zone. From Purim on, restaurants in our area become packed as crazed families attack the chometz in their home (real and imagined) with vigour.

The place was packed, I was running a fever (since I started my new job in January, I have been succumbing to subsequent waves of whatever virus is floating around the office), and achy, and well, who would expect fabulous service under such circumstances? Certainly not me, having worked many a restaurant/coffee shop job in my "youth". That being said though, the meal was an utter failure: we waited over half an hour for takeout, and once we got home, the meal had been so poorly packaged that I had to spend 20 minutes mopping up the mess. The kicker? Once we sat down to eat, the meat was stringy and tasteless.

The upshot though is that I made a comment that my husband said I should share. So I will indulge him and do so. :-)

When our number was called, we moved up and tried to give our instructions to the cook, who custom cooks your meal for you. The cook was having none of it, and blatantly ignored my few attempts at saying "Excuse me" to get his attention. I mean, he was really quite rude. My husband began to get perturbed and, being Israeli and the restaurant being an Israeli joint, switched into full-fledged Israeli mode and started to argue with the cook. I told him that he did not have to argue (since I knew he was arguing for the sake of my honour as much as anything else); we just would not come back.

Later in the car, I commented to my husband that the sad part of the ordeal with the cook was that the cook is unaware of his own holiness; he is able to be rude to his fellow yid because he is unaware of his own spiritual potential and importance. If he was aware of his holiness, I said, he would treat other yiddin with more respect because he could extrapolate from that self-awareness and apply it to others. In other words, if he is holy, all yiddin are holy and consequently worthy of consideration and kindness.

At least, that is what I hope! In Brooklyn, we are so homogeneous, it is easy to lose sight of the worth of each person since our individuality tends to fade to the background. So I am ultimately glad that the incident last night occurred. Sure, now we will have to find a new fleischig restaurant to frequent. But that is a small price to pay in light of the reminder that one should always afford one's fellow yid the benefit of the doubt...and that extra bit of thoughtfulness.

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