To the mother who held her crying daughter,
My name is Tony Posnanski and I was the restaurant manager who went to your table last night after you were done eating. I bought your family's meal and handed you a card. I asked that you not open the card at the table, but wait until you got home. You started to cry and I had to walk away because I knew I would cry as well.
Last night was a pretty smooth night. Actually, it was really smooth. We have had some rough nights this week, but last night was different. The staff got along. The kitchen was running well and honestly, everything was going as it should have. Not like the nights where the kitchen is struggling and the servers are making a few more errors.
I noticed your table early in the night. I saw you and your husband. I also saw your two kids. You looked unhappy. When I walked by the table, there was no eye contact. I got concerned that we screwed something up. You were looking at your steak and I feared it was overdone.
So I rushed over to the server.
Your server was Jessica, our best server. I asked her what we screwed up and she said nothing. I asked her if we overcooked your steak and she said no.
She told me that your dog had passed away.
I take that back. You did not lose a dog. You lost a part of your family.
I felt bad. I walked by your table again only to see you looking down. I wanted to tell you how sorry I was for your loss. I wanted to tell you that it is never a good feeling to lose a part of your family. I did not say anything.
Instead, I watched something. While I was walking away, I saw your daughter crying. She ran into your arms and you said something I will not forget...
"It is OK to cry. She is looking down and misses you as well."
I have two kids. We also have a dog. Our dog is eight years old and the reason we got her is because we never thought we could have kids of our own. She loves to bark and misbehaves at times. Yet, my kids adore her.
I know that my kids will have losses in their lives. Our dog will not live forever. My parents are getting older. Good people get sick and honestly, life is not fair at times.
It is OK to cry and show emotion. It does not make you weak to shed some tears when someone or something you care about moves on. You held your daughter in a busy restaurant and it moved me.
I told your server that I was going to buy your family's meal. It was $52 dollars. I have bought many dinners before. That is part of my job. Some have been for good reasons and others have been for mistakes. I bought it because you already had a hard day. Your family could have easily bought the food. There was no reason for me to do it, except that I wanted to.
I wanted to buy your food because you taught me a lesson about compassion. You taught me a lesson about love and a lesson about caring. Yes, I would like to think I am a compassionate, loving and caring individual. But I saw something in your family that is similar to mine. I saw you explain to your child it is OK to cry.
So the meal was on me. I gave you a letter that I asked you not to read until you got home. I just wanted to make your day a little brighter. I am truly sorry for your loss...
But I want to thank you. I have a job that sometimes I feel like is meaningless. For $52 dollars, you let me know that my job means something and it can impact lives.
Just like you impacted mine.