Locals need attitude adjustment | VailDaily.com

Locals need attitude adjustment

We are truly blessed to live in this valley, and I try to keep that in mind whenever I encounter a rude or apathetic waitperson. After all, when measured in the grand scheme of things, poor service in a restaurant is not the end of the world.

Besides, as someone recently said to me, “Wait staffs don’t earn that much money, and in all likelihood they’re only waiting tables (or acting as a host or hostess) to feed their skiing, biking, hiking “Jones” or whatever other reason brought them to the valley, so why should they care about providing good service?”

While I understand that reasoning, I’ve been involved in service industries my entire life and I take issue with that line of thinking. In high school and college I worked in the grocery, catering and bar businesses; my prior career was in the commercial insurance industry and, in addition to real estate, I teach skiing during the winter. So as an employer, an employee and an independent contractor, I’ve come to recognize that employees have responsibilities too ” and an employee’s primary responsibility is to bring a healthy attitude to the workplace.

Not to sound captious; but it disturbs me when I encounter surly attitudes or indifference from a wait staff. At too many eateries in the valley, one can watch as hostesses and waitresses clown around with other members of the staff or with friends seated at the bar while patrons wait to be served or seated.

Recently, I witnessed several would-be-diners wait at least 10 minutes before a waitperson even acknowledged their presence on the deck of a well-known restaurant in the heart of Vail Village; all while the manager sat less than 10 feet away doing paperwork. Several days later, I watched a bartender initiate an argument with a customer over a 50-cent difference on a “pizza-special.”

This is not an indictment of the restaurants in the valley, because some offer excellent service. Rays and Moe’s Southwest Grille in Edwards are examples of restaurants (albeit on opposite the end of the dining spectrum) that make their customer feel welcome; but maybe that’s because their owners are also hands-on managers.

Nevertheless, if I were to pick one category of business that needs an attitude adjustment, it would be the valley’s food and beverage establishment.

Perhaps some employees feel that for what they’re being paid it’s not worth it to embrace a positive attitude. But they miss the bigger picture and only short-change themselves in the long-run because attitude is not something that can be turned on and off like a light switch.

The people who fail to bring a positive attitude to the workplace miss out because they do not understand that the most important factor in assuring superior results in all aspects of their lives are their attitudes.

Somehow they don’t understand that their actions, feelings and moods determine how others respond to them. They should realize that the attitudes they hold announce to the world what they expect in return. It’s really pretty simple: good attitude ” good results; poor attitude ” poor results.

Psychologists tell us that the surest determinant in guaranteeing excellent results in every aspect of our lives is a healthy outlook and mind-set, which is another way of saying, attitude IS the magic word.

Working in the restaurant business is tough. It can mean low wages, inconvenient hours, putting up with discourteous customers and what have you. But the fact is that somewhere along the way the waitperson made a choice to engage in that type of livelihood. And while we cannot control all of the factors in our life, we can control our attitude ” in fact, we do just that every day whether we realize it or not.

Earl Nightingale, the celebrated self-help guru, posits that it is our attitude toward life that determines life’s attitude toward us. The great Spanish philosopher, Jose Ortega y Gasset, reminds us that human being are the only creatures on the planet that are born into a natural state of disorientation vis-à-vis our world. While all other creatures are guided by instinct, each of us has been given the unique power to create his or her life, and each of us does exactly that every single day.

The result of this “disorientation” is that success or failure is not so much a matter of chance or circumstance or fate or of who we know or any of the other cliches and myths that too many use to excuse themselves. It’s a matter of adhering to a set of commonsense principles, of which holding the proper attitude is the most important.

A great attitude does more than just keep us upbeat, although that would be reward enough on its own. As a wise man once said, “Positive attitudes seem to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.”

I will take my business elsewhere when churlish behavior becomes a restaurant’s trademark, although in a valley of seemingly “unlimited restaurant customers” I doubt that my mini-boycott will make much of a difference.

But the greater loss actually accrues to the individuals who insist upon waiting for life to change for them before they’ll change their attitudes; which to me is tantamount to expecting a fireplace to radiate heat before one has gone to the trouble of putting in the logs.

Butch Mazzuca of Singletree, a Realtor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz68@earthlink.net. This column, as in the case of all personal columns, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Vail Daily.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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