Valentine's Day is full of chocolates, kisses, flowers and romance for so many people. For a restaurant manager, it is full of a lot of work and stress. As you may already know, it is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. You probably know this because of the reservations you make in advance and the long wait times you are quoted. Everyone wants to go out to eat for that "special" meal.
Valentine's Day this year was one of the busiest nights I have worked in a while. It was busy -- but we knew it would be. So we were able to staff our restaurant properly. So everything went smoothly, for the most part.
While I was walking around asking tables how their dining experience was, many told me that it was fantastic.
I approached a family of three and asked the same question. They were not happy at all.
The father/husband told me that we screwed up his steak twice and that it was still wrong. He said his daughter's chicken fingers were not crispy enough and that the food was not timed properly at all. He told me that the drinks were not made correctly and I had no idea how to manage a restaurant. With all of those mistakes, I truly could not dispute him.
Then he said...
"And if you were a good manager you would tell that woman to move or cover up!"
The woman he was referring to was a couple of tables down. She was part of a party of seven that I had already spoken to. They rarely go out to eat and were thrilled that we made their Valentine's Day special. She was also breastfeeding her son. She was not covered up. Her son was eating and the family was eating while she was doing this.
So let's forget the fact that breastfeeding (or feeding a child for that matter) is important for the development of a child. Let's forget the fact that Florida has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in America. Let's forget the fact that it is a law that mothers can breastfeed their children in any public location in Florida without any ridicule, covered or not...
Why would I ever tell a woman to cover up while feeding her child?
You know, maybe I am not a good manager, but as a human being I would not tell a woman to go to the corner to feed a baby. I would not tell a woman to go to a bathroom where people urinate to feed a baby. Do you think I would ask a mom to go to her car or somewhere away from her family because a man or woman is offended by a breast and nipple? A nipple and breast designed for feeding a child, not for pornography or the satisfaction of admiring them?
I would never make a scene about it nor would I ever allow anyone I work with to do so. Feeding your child is important. Studies show that. A mom has every right to feed her child anywhere public in Florida. Most people do not know that. Everyone should. It is a law. Moms should know that as well.
No one should ever feel embarrassed or ashamed to feed her baby in a restaurant or mall. Moms should feed their babies anywhere they like. They do not have to cover their breasts and if you are truly offended then maybe you should look at yourself. Maybe you should look at the world you live in.
I told the husband/father that as a manager I did let his family down for the food they received. I could have ensured the food went out right after the first screw-up. I would have made the drinks differently. I should have checked on his family earlier. I get that. I ended up buying their meal because of it. I get it. It could be a reason why I am an assistant manager and not a general manager.
I also know the law. I know what is in my heart. I know that everyone who comes into my restaurant deserves to eat. That includes men, women, parents and kids. I know that breastfeeding is not a sexual act but an important one. I know that if his family was offended that a mom was breastfeeding a child, then shame on them. Shame on them for making it more than an important act.
That is why I did not reply to the husband/father about his offense at the woman breastfeeding.
Because I might not be the best manager in the world...
But I am a decent human being.
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