Management from the Road: Planning and Organizing

One evening earlier this week, a friend and I went to a luxurious dinner at a local resort. We don’t indulge that often, so we really indulged: mixed drinks, appetizers, entrees, desserts and coffee. Because we’re fairly slow eaters, plates of all sizes stacked up on our table.

As we wondered how we were going to waddle out of the restaurant, the waitress came over to ask—without sarcasm—if we needed anything more. She had been quite pleasant throughout our meal, detailing unfamiliar menu items and checking back in—attentive but not intrusive. Standing at the edge of the table, she made small talk while surveying the wreckage.

In her left hand, she held a small round tray. I hadn’t noticed it until she began to clear our dishes. My friend and I watched, our mouths agape, as this small woman leaned over our oversized table to reach the tiny bowls of oil, the bread tray, the antipasto platter and a variety of plates and coffee cups. One by one, she stacked them on the tray. Suddenly embarrassed, I moved the rest of the dishes closer to her so she didn’t have to stretch so far. She thanked me, but her smile clearly said, “I got this.”

When she finished, her tray was piled high with neatly arranged dishes. She quickly took the tray away and said, “I’ll be right back with your check.”

We watched as she carefully made her way back to the kitchen. We were impressed. There was no way I could have put all of those breakable items on such a small piece of plastic. The math didn’t compute—there wasn’t enough room. My dining companion noted that even if she’d managed to load it all on the tray, the haphazard arrangement would have been unbalanced and she would have stumbled and dropped it on the way to the kitchen.

There were things this woman could teach us.

• Planning requires you to examine the big picture and assess how all the pieces fit together.
• Good organizing includes efficient use of resources.

However, the most meaningful lesson was gleaned when she returned with the check. Our decorum gave away to curiosity. I told the waitress of our discussion and asked, “How on earth did you manage to get all that on your tray?”

She grinned and replied, “I’m a professional reacher and stacker.”

The lesson: Always perform to the best of your ability and take pride in your job well done.

Submitted by Robyn-Jay Bage


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