Us or Them

You’re either one of us or one of them.

Here’s a true story that happened to me.

Erin, Bill and I went to breakfast at IHOP in Orlando. The restaurant was attached to the hotel we were staying in. We love IHOP in Chicago. They pride themselves on quick, efficient service and brilliant waitstaff.

I knew we were in trouble when no one was there to seat us. We waited a few minutes and then just went and took a table. The waitress brought menus and it was downhill after that. We noticed that the waitstaff was delivering one plate at a time to tables. Hmmmm, why? Oh well, I ordered crepes and eggs. Erin asked for silverware. Apparently in their world a table of four only needed two sets of silverware.

Billy said “don’t be one of them“.

The eggs were over cooked (I like over easy). The crepes had bananas on them. I just wanted nutella crepes. I told the waitress they were wrong. AND SHE ARGUED WITH ME!

Billy whispered “don’t be one of them“.

The waitress went and got the menu and pointed to another crepe item and said “that’s how we make them.” Instead of taking the bait, I said I didn’t want the ones with bananas, just take them away. Then she got syrupy nice and said “we can make them however you want.”

Billy whispered “don’t be one of them“.

Five trips to our table later (remember, one plate at time) – we all had our food. Erin, however still had not received silverware. Her voice got loud and the people around us were looking. Some of them didn’t have silverware either.

Billy looked and me and said “watch how she becomes one of them. Her voice will get high, she’ll get up and make sure she’s noticed and she will get her own silverware. She’ll become one of them.”

Exactly ten seconds later – Erin became one of them. She stood up, cleared her throat and declared “I’ll just get my own damn silverware“. Erin stormed over to the silverware buckets and made as much noise as possible and got her own silverware, and some for the lady at the table next to us. She returned and said “now I can eat“. People clapped.

Billy said “you’re being one of them.”

Finally we both asked Billy “WHAT IS IT WITH THE YOU’RE BEING ONE OF THEM?”

Billy gently explained that we have all worked in the service industry. We know when we see bad service. We also know that sometimes people just have a bad day. Or that maybe there’s a back story to this situation. What if our waitress is a little slow (as in stupid)? Maybe that’s her brother cooking and he begged the owner to just give her a job, he’s tired of supporting her. Maybe she has some kind of disease that makes her stupid. He also explained that us people look at all sides of a situation and are more considerate and caring.

I made a decision, right there in that IHOP, that that day – I WAS ONE OF THEM. That day. I was unwilling to budge that day. I wanted my nutella crepes and good service. Period.

Now, however – I look at who I’m being. Am I being one of us or one of them? Am I being the kind person I want to be or am I being the super bitch I’m not? I’ve found that sometimes I need to be a little bitchier and it’s not easy for me. I remind myself that I deserve what I accept, so why would I accept something that is not what I want? If I need to speak a little louder, stomp my foot or insist on it – then I’m going to do that.

I’ll be one of them – once and awhile.


  1. Barbara on August 31, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    For good or bad, I am a champion "one of them" although I've learned to work up to that place slowly (well, not imediately!) So, this inspires me to go slower yet. But sadly, there are simply some situations where it's the only way to get results.

  2. Deb Brown on September 1, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    We try to be some happy medium of the two – however, in real life – it doesn't always work that way! The best I do is just notice if I'm being us or them – and decide if that is the right action for the time. Thanks for stopping by!