The Waiter from Hell?


All I wanted from our server was for him to tell us what the specials were, to make a few recommendations, and then bring us our food, quickly and hotly (is that a word?). Instead, he seemed offended at everything, recommended nothing—except that we go somewhere else—and then brought us the wrong food, slowly and coldly. When I complained, he said he’d had it with my attitude. Ahem, my attitude?

A few months later, I told our new roommate my “waiter from hell” story, thinking it might serve as an icebreaker. It didn’t. Dave paid his rent on time, did his dishes, and respected the house rules. In return, all he asked was to not be probed with churlish personal questions like, “Hello.”

When someone is moody I have to know why. It’s probably equal parts snoopiness and compassion, but whatever it is I keep at it. So I kept at Dave until one day he went off like a landmine. All he’d wanted was to be left alone, he said. He’d had it with my attitude. My attitude?


I knew he’d looked familiar when we interviewed him. He was the waiter from hell!

The next day, he told me he’d be moving out. A radioactive fog settled over the apartment (our other roommate Allen hid out at his girlfriend’s house). And then, figuring he had nothing to lose since he’d never see me again, Dave told me his life story. He had two kids…and a wife who’d left him for his best friend just months before he moved in with us, right about the time he turned into the waiter from… Wait, make that the waiter who was going through hell. Every day was like sliding down a razorblade. The only thing that kept him going was his ragged faith. So we prayed together.

Dave never moved out. He did begin to talk, though. And to laugh. And to live. And somehow he became one of my dearest friends (he was a member of my wedding party). 35 years later, he’s still my friend. Dave and I pushed each other beyond ourselves and closer to the God who made us.

When another friend mentioned recently how hard it is to not only forgive but to “forget” offenses, it suddenly struck me that there’s something better than forgetting: there’s redemption. I met Dave under the worst circumstances, and yet those circumstances formed the unique basis for a lifelong friendship. As a result, that memory has been completely transformed. It has been redeemed. It has become…

My waiter from heaven story.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to The Waiter from Hell?

  1. Thanks for reminding us that we can never know what might be going on in another person’s life, Mitch, and that to give them the benefit of the doubt is sometimes the greatest gift we can offer–to them and to ourselves. It’s the gift of grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura Jinkins says:

    What a wonderful post! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. says:

    So true that we often judge others before we really know them. I don’t think it’s snoopiness when you care enough to ask. I think you have a very bigly heart. (I know that’s a word because our president uses it.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great story of redemption! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great story! I really appreciate the redemption piece. Eli Weisel said forgiveness is not forgetting but remembering all. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mitch, thank you for sharing such a great happening that on most days we would think was fiction or the restaurant scene part of a sitcom skit. God was truly working behind the scenes !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome reminder…By the way, I was forced to look up the word, “snoopiness.” Don’t let it happen again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. KinjalParekh says:

    This is a brilliant redemption story! No wonder, there’s a reason for everything that happens. Loved this! This post left me thinking about few stuffs in my life. Thanks a lot! 💕💫

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, Mitch! When people are grouchy to us, many times it’s not because of us, but because they had “hell” going on in their lives! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jennwith2ns says:

    I just LOVE this. And I think redemption is a lot more true to what we see happening in the Bible (and in life, if we receive it) than “forgetting.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. what we say/how we act are not always representative of who we are but rather what we are going through – without someone taking the time to care eventually what we are going through can become who we are and then what we say/how we act are representative of us – thanks for the reminder to stick with it – to care/show a lot of snoopiness could lead to being a part of someone’s transformation even if they don’t seem to be someone you want to be around

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good story. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This story also shows that you never know what a person is going through. When I come across a person that seems like this, I always ask God to help me see Him in that person. Then I start praying for them. I tell people you don’t know what this person might be going through or what might have just happened to them (an argument with a loved one, bad news, loss of some kind) It’s not always easy but it has help me not be so “offended” if thats the right word, or get my feelings hurt. Thanks for sharing this, God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh man, you have an amazing talent. I love reading your posts and want to comment like a crazy woman…so I hold off on reading 😀 This post hit home. I was laughing at first and now I’m a blubbering mess, in ugly tears.
    Thank you. Thank you for being a friend to that man when he needed it the most, being a channel of God’s heart to him at such a raw time in life.
    Uh, MAN!!! That one took me for an emotional ride. Wasn’t expecting that! *breathe*
    Good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dacia says:

    Chicken Soup material right here.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. carhicks says:

    When they say, don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes, I say, don’t judge a man, that is not our place. Forgiveness and redemption is our role. A wonderful post to remind us of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. BelleUnruh says:

    A wonderful story. I really appreciate you sharing it. The fantastic thing about it is how God brought you together; how he brought Dave to someone who truly cared.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jennie says:

    Now, that is a wonderful story. I’m the glass-half-full, and now I need to look at the cranky people I come into contact with through my very own lens. Capisce?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. nancyehead says:

    Fabulous post! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Reblogged this on Robin Luftig and commented:
    Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Consider practicing it more.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. That’s hilarious and awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Anne J. says:

    What a wonderful story, Mitch! Sometimes, I’m the “waiter from hell” and other times, I’m you – with an attitude problem. 🙂 Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Thanks for sharing your story. That is the Gospel. Thank the Lord you were persistently patient with Dave. Think about Jesus and his disciples are made. I pray Dave is passing it on.


    Gary Isn’t awesome how the Lord uses his

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Lucie says:

    A lovely reminder that I need to remember not to judge hateful, mean people…we’re all just “trying to get by”…Thanks for beautifully reminding us. Nice piece, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

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