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He walks to us, takes our order and does the same for the table adjacent to ours.
15 minutes later, John (the waiter) walks to our table:
John: I’m sorry for the delay, would you like something to drink?
Me: No problem, can we get a couple of beers?
He goes to the adjacent table where there’s a party of 4 and apologizes to them too.
30 minutes later..
John: I’m really sorry, there’s an issue in our kitchen and all the orders had to be redone. Your food will be out in a few minutes.
Me: Sure, that’s okay. We can wait.
John: The beer is on me, free of charge.
He goes to the adjacent table and it’s clear that they’re not very amused with the delay. One woman from the party speaks up in a rather rude tone and claims that it’s ridiculous to wait for over 45 minutes for a simple Quesadilla. She suggested that if the restaurant can’t manage with one server they should either shut down for the night or hire more people.
Having listened to an earful, John politely apologized again and handed a $20 bill to each member of the party as a token of apology.
They accepted the cash with no hesitation and promptly walked out.
My wife and I look at each other with disbelief as John walks past us with a smile on his face.
We are served the food eventually. It was as delicious as it can get.
John: How was the food?
Me: Impeccable. Some of the finest Tex-Mex I’ve had for a while.
John: Glad to hear. Let me clear the plates out for you.
Me: Sure. Can I have the check please?
John: I’m sorry, there’s no check for you tonight.
Me: What do you mean?
John: It’s not acceptable to wait 45 minutes at a restaurant. The entire meal is on me.
Me: No Sir. I cannot leave without having paid for the food. I saw what you did at the other table and I’d hate for you to lose money for what seemed like an unfortunate circumstance that could happen to any one.
John: That is very kind of you. But I cannot expect my customers to pay when the service is below par.
John: I run this place. Today most of my staff had an emergency so I had to wait all tables. I thought I could manage it and I would’ve too if not for the kitchen fiasco. Lesson learned I guess.
Me: (shocked and confused) Please let me pay. We all have bad days and I know how I would react if I’m not paid for having a bad day at work. The service and the food was by no means below par.
John: I’m very pleased to hear that, thank you. But I won’t be accepting any payment from you.
Me: Then what can I do to show my gratitude?
John: I’d be glad if you visit again.
Having said that, John quietly walks into the kitchen.
My wife and I walk out utterly shocked and humbled by this experience.
EDIT: Okay so I’m breaking a rule that I created before writing on Quora but this is an overwhelming exception that had to be made.
For the sake of closure for all readers, the restaurant was ‘Caliente’ in Houston, Texas. John was a fictional name used to describe this experience.
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