This summer for our sixth wedding anniversary, Bryan took me to dinner at Salty’s on Alki. If you’ve never been to Salty’s, it is an excellent seafood restaurant with gorgeous views across the bay to downtown Seattle - one of our favorite places to enjoy a long, slow dinner with a bottle of wine.
During this visit I couldn’t help but notice the amazing customer service the entire time we dined. Our hostess led us from the front podium through the food prep area into the dining room, around the corner, down a few steps, and to the left where we were seated at a cozy table for two.
From the moment we left the front foyer, each employee smiled and greeted us.
And when I say they smiled and greeted us, I’m not just referring to a pass-by smile on their way to the kitchen. The food prep cooks called out to us from over the counter; waiters stopped collecting their plates to smile and say hello; a bus boy stopped his work, turned from his table, and greeted us as we walked by; a second hostess on her way back to the podium stepped aside, smiled, and said hello.
This occurred five or six times as we made our way to the table.
What affect did this have on me, as the customer? I was elated. I felt proud, important, and famous. With each greeting I held my head higher, I stood a little taller, and I walked with a little more sass. I felt like I belonged there. The world was stopping to acknowledge me, and it set the tone for our entire evening.
I think about this often as I walk through the doors of our church. Do I blow past ten or twenty people on my way to drop the kids off at children’s church? Or do I slow down and say hello as we weave through the crowd?
I find that as a parent, it’s very easy to busy myself with my daughter’s jacket or my son’s boots as a way to avoid conversation with the couple across the aisle from me on the parking shuttle. But my experience at Salty’s revived my confidence in the power of a smile, in the effectiveness of a greeting. Often times these are the simple things that make a person feel welcome.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2). As a believer in Christ, I represent Jesus in everything I do. As a member of Mars Hill Church, I represent this particular Body under Christ. I wonder, sometimes, if I put as much effort into welcoming people into my church as the staff at Salty’s puts into making each customer feel like a million bucks.
In a congregation this large it is not always easy to spot the newbies, and in a congregation this large it is not always easy to discern the old-timers who just need encouragement on a bad day. A greeting and a smile might make me a new friend, or encourage someone to come back again, or lift someone’s spirits.
I know it makes me feel like a superstar!