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Rocket Science and the Quesadilla
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 • Posted December 8, 2009

When my wife and I travel we like to frequent the “Mom & Pop” restaurants in the cities and towns we visit. In doing so, we meet some very interesting people along the way.

About ten years ago we were passing through Gallup, New Mexico, and stopped at such a place to eat. The waitress was attentive and met our every request with a smile and a willingness to serve. Could I have some extra gravy? Would you mind cooking this steak a wee bit more? No problem.

We struck up a conversation and discovered that she had a master’s degree and had taught school for several years in Florida before moving to New Mexico. “Why Gallup?” we inquired. It was in a bleak desert smack dab in the middle of an Indian Reservation. “My husband and I love it here,” she replied. We meet interesting people every day. We bought this little café and decided to make Gallup our permanent home.”

“So you own this place,” I said. “What does your husband do?” “Oh,” she said, “he is in the kitchen doing the cooking. He loves it.” “What did he do in Florida?” I asked. She replied that he worked for the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) as a physicist. In other words, he held a Ph.D., was a true “rocket scientist” and here he was working in the middle of nowhere as a cook!

She told us some war stories about their previous jobs and how stress filled their lives had become as they tried to meet the expectations of their employers and the government bureaucrats for which they worked. Even though they were making good money, they decided to give it all up and seek something more personally fulfilling. They were happy being their own bosses and, as a result, their lives had become much less complicated.

I think their new found happiness was reflected in the way they served their customers.

We felt compelled to recommend their eating establishment to anyone who planned to pass through Gallup, New Mexico.

Fast forward ten years to Blanco County, Texas. My wife and I, along with a Hispanic friend, ordered Mexican food at a local restaurant. “I just want something light,” said my wife. “I think I’ll order the quesadillas. I have had them here before and they’re pretty good.”

When her order arrived she looked at them quizzically and asked our friend, “Do these look like quesadillas to you?” “Those look like chicken burritos to me,” he said. I had to concur with them.

She called the waiter over and explained that she had ordered quesadillas, not burritos. Could she please have what she had ordered? The waiter insisted that those were quesadillas. My wife insisted that she had ordered quesadillas there before and that these were not what she had previously received. The waiter wouldn’t budge. My wife politely refused the order.

Now, making quesadillas is not rocket science! You take a couple of tortillas, put a little cheese between them and heat the concoction on the grill. That’s it. Even if their definition of a quesadilla was different than my wife’s, what could be so hard about honoring her simple request? What was the result of their refusal?

When all was said and done, the waiter received no tip from my wife. She does not recommend that eating establishment to any of our friends. She has made it clear to me that we are not to eat there ever again. They have lost a customer—one who loves Mexican food.

Horace Mann said, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.”

“Help thy brother’s boat across, and lo—thy own has reached the shore!” (Hindu proverb)

The rendering of service to others is not rocket science.

“I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye might learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17)

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