“If you are going out of business take your sign down,” my mother says, irritated about her treatment at a locally-owned restaurant. Customers are treated like an afterthought at best and an annoyance at worst. This treatment begins as soon as you enter. No one greets you. There are people in aprons (called “aproned-ones” in this article since “server” wouldn’t be an accurate description), walking around but none of them actually acknowledge you. Occasionally food is placed on a shelf from the cook and carried to a customer, but that doesn’t happen as often as you would think it would, given the number of customers. So there are long waits between when food is ordered and when it arrives at the table of the hungry patron. Every time a plate is set on that little ledge a customer hopefully looks to see if it’s their meal. Frustration builds as the clock ticks.
Some haven’t placed their order and are now trying all methods within their power to get attention and a glass of water without being rude. This includes glaring, raising their hands as though in school, half sitting, half standing, frowning and sighing loudly, while the aproned-ones walk by looking straight ahead, avoiding eye contact at any cost.
The cook puts the food on the shelf from the kitchen for the aproned-ones to take to the customers. Since you don’t see servers getting the food quickly, you wonder how long that plate has been sitting on that lonely ledge.
As you stand at the door you wait with anticipation for someone to greet you and tell you what to do. You wonder if you should just sit down, but are you supposed to wait to be seated like the sign says? If you wait you might not ever get someone to come ever. Anxiety.
You smell the food, you see the cooks and servers and the people eating but, everyone from server to cashier to the owner seem to have forgotten something….
that they are running a business and businesses have customers. I have walked outside of a place of business, looked up at at the sign – to see if it actually said “open for business.” For some businesses instead of being greeted by “may I help you?’ employees are working on something and when they do acknowledge you it’s more like “what do you want, I’m busy” than “may I help you?” Doesn’t a business serve customers? Doesn’t a business have something of value for others? Doesn’t a business have a purpose?
Owning a business can be difficult. Some sole proprietorships make a lot of money, some not so much. And for some small businesses, including restaurants, there’s a lot of competition. The leader has to think of ways to get and keep customers in order to stay in business. But one thing is for sure, ignoring them won’t keep them.
And business is about relationships. No relationship, no business. If you’re going out of business, in other words, don’t want a relationship and the responsibility of serving others, take your sign down.
Some would say life is relationship. Mama said this, “Your relationship to God is your most important relationship.”
And she wasn’t talking about rituals, e.g. going to church, giving to a charity, even reading The Bible can just be “putting up a sign” if your heart isn’t in it. You’re just going through the motions.
Ever felt like that with your relationship to God? That you were just going through the rituals and that you really didn’t mean it? That means somewhere there was a disconnection from Him, because He’s right there. He’s never left you. And in fact wants to have a relationship with you.
No need in just going through the motions if you want to have a relationship with Him. Just ask Him, kneel if you’d like and say, “Lord, I want to be your follower, to know you. Show me the way to go. I submit my life to you. Believe that He loves you, cares about you and wants to have a relationship with you.