In honor of my birthday, my friends and I were sitting in the big corner booth of a new chocolate-themed restaurant when the waitress came over to bring us our water — carrying the glasses with a finger inside each and every one. She then proceeded to put the cups on the table in a circle and pour the water, not bothering to lift up the pitcher as she moved from one glass to the next. So what if half the water and ice ended up on the table? She had the perfect solution! She took her hand and pulled the mess off the edge of the table — and back into the pitcher.
We sat there, mouths agape (and, of course, dry since there was no way we were drinking that water). Hesitantly, but with a determination found only when you’ve been thinking about a chocolate-centered meal for two weeks, we ordered our food. Jessica essentially asked for a deconstructed banana chocolate sandwich, and when the waitress brought it out, her way of serving it was to throw a still-in-the-peel banana Jessica’s way. It landed on the table with a thunk because even Jess’s reflexes couldn’t believe what was happening. We were waiting for her to get the chocolate part of her food when Kim realized her salad dressing was much thicker than it should be — thankfully just before the chocolate hit the lettuce.
When the manager stopped by to check on things, Carolyn ever so tactfully told him what was going on. He apologized profusely, chatted with us a bit, and promised free dessert. The waitress came back with the manager a little while later and said, “I’m sorry, did I put my fingers in your glasses?” Um, yeah, not awkward at all.
So…worst restaurant experience ever, right? Actually, it was one of the best nights of my life. How’s that possible? Because my friends and I saw it for the comedy of errors that it was. There were hilarious one-liners, questions about how the service could get any worse (quickly followed by answers), and sore cheeks and stomachs from constantly cracking up; by the end of the evening, we’d probably already laughed off all those calories we’d eaten.
Sure, we could’ve looked at it as an upsetting dining travesty of mythical proportions; the whole situation would’ve played out much differently then. Instead of a bunch of friends having a blast, it would’ve been a table full of grossed out, hangry, complaining women waiting for their chocolate, and that’s not something anyone wants. (Although I don't know that our our fellow diners appreciated our presence either way…)
I’m not saying you can always make a joke out of the bad experiences in your life or that you should push down those feelings of frustration, sadness, or whatever else comes up. In fact, it's exceedingly important to acknowledge and fully feel all your emotions. But, at the same time, chances are there's at least one thing to be grateful for in every sucky situation; finding that will make whatever you're going through just a little bit easier. Then, instead of getting upset as you remember an experience as being, say, a birthday dinner completely ruined by the world’s worst waitress, you can grin as you reminisce about that hysterical night you shared with your friends and think about how lucky you are to know wonderful people who all have a find-the-funny outlook on life.
Katie Baron: life coach, freelance writer, animal and nature lover, musician, relentless optimist