"You are the most considerate and skillful waiter I have been served by in years. Thank you for your incredible amount of attention and friendliness!"
How did he react?
He stood still. Folding his hands in front of his belt he took a breath. His look said: Ok. I can do this. I will make it through.
When I was done he said, very seriously, "Thank you. I am not good at receiving compliments. But I appreciate it."
How did I feel?
The town of Eisenach marks half of the drive Andernach-Berlin. There is a wonderful Café there. They serve vegan food and fancy teas. And heavenly cakes. It's become my family's tradition to stop and grab a bite on the way to Berlin.
When I entered this time I was immediately greeted by Pascal. He lead me to a table. Moving quickly he didn't spread a hasty vibe. Rather a professional one: His arms and voice and eyes flew through the room. My drink stood in front of me in no time. His hands danced their way over the table, placing a sugar caster and a napkin next to my tea. Each movement was perfection. "Anything else I can do for you?" he asked with the the friendliest voice. I said, "Yes. Can I have a paper and a pen?" "Oh, sure! Here you go." He handed me his notepad. Next time he passed my table he caught me drawing. "Oh no! I didn't know you were going to draw.. Let me get you a bigger piece of paper. These ones are too small... I know the score." Seconds later he was back with a bunch a of large sheets.
I watched him for a while. He talked to every customer, just a handful of sentences, each of them carefully selected. A guy wearing a hat got a little how-easily-these-hats-get-lost chat, an elderly couple some suggestions for activities in Eisenach. He chose just the right amount of words. Without getting on anyone's nerves he made everyone feel seen and welcome.
Later he served me a good salad.
Before I left I complimented him. He stayed professional even then: Saying thank you in the most polite way, kindly explaining receiving a compliment was not his favorite thing. I think he did a great job at taking it. His whole appearance reminded me of Monsieur Gustave from the Grand Budapest Hotel (by the way: On my top three of this year's films! A must watch if I may say so). We got into talking. Turns out Pascal is a Berliner, too.
"It was about time to move. 30 years of Berlin leave you overstimulated, feeling like you've seen it all. Initially I came for love. Now I am still here. It's been a couple of months. And the absolute right decision."
"Yeah, I hear you. The greatest thing moving away from Berlin for me-"
"...is the nature.", we said at once. We laughed.
"Anyway Berlin is my home", he went on, "I will return eventually. But I am not done here. Plus I am in a lucky place: No one is waiting for me. The friends I have all know we'll stay in touch. And other than that- I am completely free. No family, no kids."
"Sounds like you are a brave person."
When I gave him the address of the blog I told him he should tell me if there was something in the post he didn't want to see published.
He responded: "No worries. I am one of the few people still believing in artistic freedom."
I hope your journey will lead you to beautiful places. And to love. Lots of that. And to strings tying you to people you wish to be tied to.
Keep up your great work. I am sure every customer is thankful for your awesome service.