“Sooner or Later, You’ll Be the Waiter”

I originally heard this phrase in a song; it was about a young man trying to impress his date. He brought her beautiful flowers, and took her to the most expensive restaurant in town. He ordered champagne and roast duckling, and had a violinist play romantic music all through their meal.

He kept asking her about herself, and complemented her lavishly on her beauty. Toward the end of the evening, he made sure to have the waiter bring out her favorite dessert; caramel creme brulee.

It was a fabulous date to be sure, but the girl noticed that he was rude and abrupt with the waiter. As the date went on, the young man became increasingly disrespectful to the waiter. It made the girl quite uncomfortable, and she felt sorry for the waiter. But she had to admit that it had been a fabulous night out.

That night when the young man walked her up to her door, he kissed her cheek, and said that he hoped he would see her again. The girl smiled and went inside, where her mother was waiting up for her.

As they sat at the kitchen table drinking tea, the girl told her mother all about her wonderful evening, and how she thought that this young man might be “the one.” She did mention that she felt bad about how he treated the waiter, but dismissed it by saying again what a wonderful date it had been. The mother looked over the rim of her cup at her daughter.

She said, “you know, that sounded like the perfect evening, except for one thing; he was rude to the waiter.” The girl said that he had only been trying to show her a good time, and how he had wanted everything to be perfect for her.

The mother sighed and said, “when a person treats another person badly, you can be sure that he will treat others the same way.” The girl asked what she meant. The mother said, “I mean that, should you stay with him, sooner or later, you’ll be the waiter.”

Sadly, this can be all too true; and not just about men behaving badly, either. It reminds me of my first marriage. In my 20’s and early 30’s I had had three proposals, and turned down each one.

I was flattered to be asked; I just never felt I was ready to be married.

But at age 36, I got the idea that I should be married. The man I was dating at the time, and who turned out to be my first husband, wasn’t a terrible person, just the wrong one for me.

Mind you, the signs were all right in front of me while we were dating; he was stubborn, he had some pretty ignorant opinions, he was snobbish about little things, and he felt he was never in the wrong.

I just chose to ignore all those signs. As many a woman before me, I was confident that these were minor little details; surely I could change them. I learned the hard way that people pretty much are what you see, and not likely to change.

When the marriage inevitably broke up, I kicked myself for choosing to be so blind. When the scales fall from your eyes, you wonder why you didn’t pick up on the clues. We want so much to see the good in people, and we often will forgive and/or overlook the obvious.

It takes some experience and confidence in yourself to cut through the initial attraction and hear those warning bells.

After my divorce, I became hyper vigilant and determined not to make such a mistake again. I established in my mind what my ‘deal-breakers’ were, and went from there. Three years later, the Crankee Yankee and I married, and have been together ever since. Is he perfect? No, but neither am I. However, he is perfect for me.

And if you’re wondering—-no, he has never been rude to a waiter.