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 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to The Waiter from Hell?

  1. Looks like a repost, it was worth it. Hope Dave is reading this as a reminder of your friendship. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Liz Abridged says:

    I am also one who tends to push to get all the details, and it is constantly pointed out to me how much people loathe this habit of mine. It lifts me up to see a time when doing so served to better all involved. Redemption is something I know very little of but seek, without direction sometimes. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. bornagain732 says:

    Love this!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Candice says:

    Amazing story. How wonderful that God put you together so that Dave’s need of prayer, healing, and friendship was fulfilled.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. mouldingbeauty says:

    Loved this! You really never know what people are dealing with…


  6. Rhonda says:

    What a great story. It’s so easy for us to take offense when we receive poor service and not consider what life circumstances led to it.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Kathleen Ellerman says:

    We all need a little redemption once and awhile in our lives. Really enjoyed this.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. badfinger20 says:

    What an inspiring story…I’m glad you kept at him and just didn’t let him be like many would have done.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. pwm1 says:

    “Redemption.” A theme two times in two days. Yesterday my wife and I watched the latest episode of one of our favorite shows, “The 100” on CW. (Minor spoiler alert to anyone who has not yet watched Season 6 Episode 9, “What You Take With You.”) Octavia, one of the main (and one of my favorite) characters was in the depths of despair and was confronted with the question, “What do you want?!” She answered, “forgiveness!” Her confronter angrily asked again, “What do you want?!” And she screamed out, “REDEMPTION!” Suddenly, she finds herself down a new path. What a powerful word! Great post as usual, Mitch; thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. lynnabbott says:

    What an awesome story, Mitch! And yes! Redemption is just the right word! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bill Sweeney says:

    Great story/lesson, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. M.B. Henry says:

    What a great story! 🙂 Glad hell became heaven!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Oh, what a lovely, uplifting story! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love stories like this! I try to assume the person is having a rough time, but I’m glad you got him to tell you why. – Annie (“That Passenger” – June 7)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a great story! My husband and I met on a day that was terrible for both of us. We really didn’t like each other. His secretary kept pushing and we went out on a date. Sometimes it really is a bad day or we are going through a bad time! Eventually, we will be better people!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. laronda65 says:

    Doesn’t God do the coolest things sometimes?!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Lisa Beth says:

    Great story Mitch, “When someone’s moody have to know why”…good approach, one to remember. God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Charlotte Q. says:

    This message truly blessed me! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ann Coleman says:

    What a great story! And a great reminder of what can happen when we reach out to “fix” our broken relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Wally Fry says:

    Reblogged this on Truth in Palmyra and commented:
    This is proof that looking outside of ourselves and at another person is what we are taught and commanded to do. Thanks, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      My privilege, Wally.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Beautiful story, Mitch! Thank you for reblogging this, Wally.

      Sunday before last, my husband, his daughter, and I went out for lunch after church. Our waiter was…. very inept. Not rude, not irritable, but he was doing everything all wrong and backwards. My stepdaughter, whom I love like my own daughter, became noticeably irritable with the waiter. An insulin dependent diabetic, her sugar was dropping while we waited for well over an hour and a half for our food. He didn’t even bring our drinks or salads out first. My stepdaughter used to be a waitress and then a restaurant manager. So she knows how it’s supposed to be done.

      After our meal, I felt prompted in my spirit to walk over to the waiter as he was on his way back to the kitchen with another table’s order. I told him that I had been a waitress for a brief time many years ago and that I was all thumbs at first, but with time I got better. I also told him that my husband had put a good tip for him on our card.

      He looked like he wanted to cry. “I’m sorry I made that other lady at your table so mad,” he said. (My stepdaughter had complained to the manager.) “Yes, I am new on this job. I was working as a custodian over at the elementary school for the past four and a half years. But then my son died, and it hurt too much to be around the other children…”

      Our waiter from hell was also going through hell. And in my opinion, it doesn’t get much more hellish than that.

      I explained that my stepdaughter was so irritable because she is a newly diagnosed, insulin dependent diabetic, and her blood sugar was dropping as we waited for the food. “She really needs to eat breakfast before going to church,” I said. Then I told him how very sorry I am about the loss of his son, and I said I will be praying for him.

      You know, I really do believe that most people, most of the time, are doing the best they can with what they have. Love is the number one commandment. Without the spirit of God’s agape love, we have nothing.

      It only took me about 60 years to start to figure this stuff out. 😊

      Liked by 4 people

  21. Ahhhhh, a tale well told, Mitch. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Pingback: Waiter from Hell? – A Blog About Healing From PTSD

  23. ibikenyc says:

    Thank you for the many warm fuzzies.

    (I am here via LindaLee of A Blog About Healing From PTSD.)

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I don’t intend to offend you, but this story made me laugh! How hilarious that the same waiter became your housemate but you didn’t recognize him/each other? until later! I love the synchronicity and the happy ending to this story. Life is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Yes! I love the Jesus-get-a-hold-of-people stories! Those are moments that remind us that the Lord makes diamonds out of dust.

    In Christ,


    Liked by 1 person

  26. Jennie says:

    Really nice, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. A real happening!🍵😎🍵

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Cindy Dawson says:

    Great story, Mitch! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

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