Friday, January 21, 2011

An Outstanding Burger King Employee

I consider myself a very open-minded person who views all people by their merits rather than through the lens of race, age, disability, or whatever. Me? I am the ultimate believer in equality, in not judging a book by its cover, in not remembering people forevermore by my first glimpse of them.

At least, that's the way I like to think I am. The truth might be a bit grayer than that, as I realized last night.

This has been the snowiest week I can remember, and I've lived in New Hampshire my entire life. In fact, I'm home from work today because the superintendent called a snow day. Anyway, the driving has been horrendous all week, so I haven't been letting Addie drive herself to and from school (and to and from activities, and let me just say that Addie is a very extracurricularly-involved child ...)

Last night it was jazz band, which ends at the awkward time of 7:30 (awkward because Belle usually goes to bed at seven, so I have to keep her up past her bedtime and deal with the various ramifications of that). I decided to bribe Belle with a trip to Burger King to make the idea of not going to bed on time more palatable (she's got to be the only kid in America that actually WANTS to go to bed on time). She was agreeable to this, so off we went.

We walked into Burger King, and there was a dwarf behind the counter. The first thought that goes through my head? "Oh my gosh, he's a dwarf!" The second, by the way, was, "Yeah, you hypocrite, you think you're open-minded, but 'He's a dwarf!' is flashing in your brain like neon."

We went to the counter and ordered our food, and the employee (I'll call him Ned) gave me an immediate knowing smile as if to say, "Yeah, I'm a dwarf. I get this all the time."

This Burger King was short-staffed (that was a completely unintentional pun, by the way ... I just picked it up when I reread what I've written so far), so Ned was working both the cash register and the drive thru window while one other employee made orders behind him.

And can I just tell you how amazing this guy was? He moved from the cash register to the drive thru, carrying a step stool with him so he could fill cups, scoop French fries (he put gloves on before he did this ... many fast food employees don't, or don't remove gloves before handling money, a practice that turns my stomach), and that sort of thing. This sounds cheesy, but it was almost like watching someone dancing; he was that coordinated, that in a state of perpetual motion.

As he was putting our tray together, he brought out a selection of toys and let Belle pick which one she wanted, which got him instant status with her.

While we were eating, Ned was changing the trash bags and collecting the trays. I smiled at him the first time he walked by, and he asked how everything was. The second time he walked by, I said to him, "Wow, you never stop working, do you?"

He replied, "Well, they told us in training that we should always be moving."

I laughed and said, "Well, you certainly are."

And as he walked away, I said to Belle, "Do you see how hard that man works? It's so important to always put 100% into your job, whether you're a doctor or a worker at Burger King."

She nodded solemnly.

When we were finished eating, I threw away the trash and gave Belle the empty tray. I told her to bring it to the counter, where Ned was busy wiping down the trays he'd collected from the tops of the trash bins.

As Belle handed the tray to Ned, she said, "Thank you again for letting me pick my toy."

He looked at me and smiled, and I felt like I'd done something right.

And yet I'm almost tormented by the fact that I almost called this post, "The Dwarf at Burger King", by my initial reaction to the sight of Ned.

I'm trying to make up for that, though, by sharing the experience with the blogosphere ... and, of course, giving this post a more reverent and completely accurate title.