Lesson 43: Do not admonish

Belinda Wilcox Ouellette, Special to The County
12 years ago

The dining room was flooded with famished conference attendees, their plates overflowing with sweet potato salad, burly slices of roast beef stacked on fresh sandwich rolls, blocks of fresh fruit, and luscious Snickerdoodle cookies. Waiters were scattered about the room, their black and white attire an easy target for those needing additional napkins, flatware, or crystal pitchers filled with ice water.

From the far corner, I heard a distinctive female voice bursting through the orchestra of voices. “I thought I made it very clear to you that I do not want lemon slices in my iced tea. Lemon slices have been proven to be unsanitary.” The object of her frustration, a young lady with short black hair and sleepy eyes, removed the glass of iced tea from the table and stumbled toward the kitchen; her head down. I looked into my own glass of iced tea where three slices of lemon floated in unison with clear, square ice cubes. I took a long sip of the cold tea, acknowledging once again that I loved that trace of lemon flavor. I guess I had never given much thought to the impurity of fresh lemon slices. That young waitress had appeared so tired and defeated ; unfairly chastised because there were unwanted lemon slices in a glass of iced tea.

I continued with my lunch, thankful for the opportunity to be here in Bar Harbor once again for the annual conference I had been attending for the past 20 years or so. The view from the dining room was mesmerizing. The bay, speckled with sea vessels of every shape and hue, swayed before me with hypnotic motion; a masterpiece that would never be duplicated in oil or watercolor.

When the luncheon was over, I gathered my things and walked toward the exit arch. The young woman who had been admonished earlier was stacking empty plates and goblets on a round table. As I was walking by her, she lifted her head and smiled. “Thank you, Ma’am. Have a wonderful day. “

“I would like to thank you for the excellent service and all of your hard work,” I responded.

She lifted her head and looked at me in surprise. I went on. “I have got to tell you that I could never do your job. I just don’t have the physical or emotional stamina to offer the service you offer day after day. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I would last five minutes!”

I told her I was going out to the Stone House and relax on the deck before the afternoon session began and she asked me if I would like to bring a cool drink with me. I told her I thought that was a great idea and I asked for some iced tea in a “go-cup.” She gave me a “thumbs up” and headed toward the kitchen area.

“Oh, and one more thing, if you don’t mind,” I said. She turned back toward me, her smile still fresh. “Could you toss in a few extra lemon slices?”

There was an easy moment of silence before our laughter drifted out into the perfect afternoon, tenderly caressing the true blue waters of Frenchman’s Bay.

Editor’s Note: Belinda Wilcox Ouellette lives Connor TWP with her husband Dale and their Goldendoodle Barney. They are currently working on building a home in Caribou. You may contact Belinda online at: dbwouellette@maine.rr.com.