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There are times in my life that I have been unable to find my grace; fortunately, those times are long in my past, for I have learned (typically the hard way) that one thing for which we can all be measured is how graceful we behave in situations.

I have this wonderful Friday morning routine: I go to the bank, then to my favorite bakery, Della Fattoria, in downtown Petaluma to pick up the Nick’s Cove bread order (and a latte for myself), and then head to work. This particular Friday morning, I decided to meet a good friend for that latte and have a quick “catch-up-chat”.  Inside the bakery/café there are beautiful communal tables; this day there were several groups seated together, enjoying each other’s company as well as their neighbor … great energy that day! The manager, Kim, is this lovely, kind, generous woman who remembers your name and when she smiles it warms your heart! So, everyone is enjoying themselves and in walks a woman, her husband and two friends. And, what happens next makes everyone hold our communal breath.

Apparently, the woman “had a reservation” and there were people seated at the table she wanted. Uhhh, that would be the table I and two other parties were currently occupying.

And she continued … loudly, rudely, finger pointed, voice raised and with such thick condescension in her tone (clearly informing Kim what she “should have” done) it was literally uncomfortable to watch. But, watch we did – all of us; we watched as her husband tried to hush her and her friends looked away in embarrassment. We watched Kim gracefully smile at her and assure her that they would make her reservation work; by the time the rest of her party arrived, her table would be ready. Kim did not falter; she did not once ever lose her grace as we watched and listened, in abject horror, to this graceless woman’s demands.

Just as promised, a few guests finished and paid; two moved to a different table and the woman’s table was readied and there the four of them sat … waiting for the balance of their large party (12 people) to arrive. So, all of that upset and their entire party was not even close to being there! Wow ……..

In my line of work, this type of guest exists; they are rare, the exception … but they are out there! The only way to handle the situation is with tact and grace because in life sometimes you need to give grace to those who have none; all that anger and righteousness is just their way of communicating that they are running on empty. It’s not easy, nor fun but it’s what works … at least most of the time! I felt Kim’s grace in that room (I believe we all did) because without that grace being extended, it would have been difficult to continue enjoying myself.

About Dena Grunt

"We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free." - Kavita Ramdas Dena is the author or Table with a View: the History and Recipes of Nick's Cove" and founder of Destination HR Consulting. She lives in Petaluma.

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