How to not wait for your customer
Deflated in the doorway he wilts, waiting for someone to walk in. He could be busy with possibility, but instead, he is empty with apathy and expectations unmet. He smiles feebly as you walk passed. Of course, you don’t stop. Why would you, to that face?
He’s not your job. You’re job is to eat something delicious and exactly what you feel like in an environment that is alive. He’s making you feel like your job is to make him custom. He doesn’t see this, of course. He blames the weather, the economic climate, the new restaurant next door. Never his wilt.
Trying something new, he puts a waitress in the doorway in his stead. She smiles somewhat less feebly as you walk passed. Says hello. Asks your already accelerating self if you’d like to see a menu. Disappointment looms again – a grey ghost seeping over the shoulders of her efforts towards the street.
They could both be busy with possibility – with chalking a beautiful new menu board, with shining the windows til they are like diamonds, with podding fresh peas from seats out front. But instead, they’re doubling their drab vibe with misplaced niceties and loaded expectation.
Walking by yet again, you think, do you already owe them something? Of course not, which is why you keep walking passed not walking in, towards places that can be explored without pressure, where you can soak in some of the ambience before you commit to a meal. You don’t care if the place is empty, as long as you can explore the menu without their eyes on you. You may not owe them anything, but you certainly don’t want to be the target of their disappointment.
I, too, have fears that the custom won’t come in. And I actively attempt to make it my problem, not theirs. So, I try to begin my relationship with strangers walking by as accidental encounters. Not with expectations that they will stay, but with a hose in my hand in the front garden, or dirt under my nails repotting some figs. I disarm them with my complete involvement in making my space beautiful enough that someone (not them of course), but someone, would be crazy not to sit down. Clean your windows if you’re anxious. Doesn’t matter if you did it this morning, do it again. Polish cutlery with gusto, redo your signs, but don’t, whatever you do, wait.