My friend Matt and I seriously love us some Olive Garden, and our friends like to poke and jab us about it. You know what, though? We don’t care. We scoff at their ribbing and give each other a knowing shrug as if to say, “Haters love to hate.” We are comfortable with basking in mediocrity.
So tonight was one of those famed O.G. nights, and there was a lot to catch up on. We had a new waitress and we had to bring her up to speed: 1) We need lots of extra vegetables in our salad; 2) It’s funnier if you pretend to be our tour guide on the Tour of Italy; 3) We will ask you if you have ever known anyone to get married in an Olive Garden (because apparently this happens, who knew?) and 4) We also need lots of extra chocolate mints at the end of our meal. We are a demanding duo, but we do it with a smile so that makes it okay.
This particular evening we were chatting with our newbie waitress, and we mentioned that she had a lot to live up to if she was going to be counted among the likes of our favorite waiter, Maurice. Her eyes lit up and she said she knew Maurice, that he was in the restaurant tonight and that everyone was sad because he was moving to Florida. Given this utterly devastating news, we had her send Maurice over to the table right away. This was some serious business.
Just so everyone understands, Maurice is the kind of waiter you can banter with, and that is my favorite kind of wait staff of all. He is not stuffy or stodgy, and he goes above and beyond to make his customers happy. He is also, as the kids would say, “totes adorbs.” He is probably twenty years too young for me, but even that hasn’t put him outside the realm of possibility in my mind as a future love interest – he just that cool. Or I’m just that cougarish. Or whatever. I digress. My point is, Maurice is the man. We love him.
Tonight, Maurice made my night, my week, maybe even my month or year. Upon greeting us, he gave us big, genuine hugs and proceeded to tell us about this news that he is moving to Florida. He had been approached to go to the Orlando corporate flagship Olive Garden to be on a fast track for management. This was no surprise to me, because after all, the kid’s got it. But then he said the most astounding thing. He said that a couple of months ago, there was a staff meeting of all the Olive Garden staff, and the managers read aloud a Yelp review that I (yes, me!) had written. The review was a mediocre review of Olive Garden (I mean really, it is Olive Garden) but a glowing review of Maurice. He said, “I’m a pretty tough guy, but when they read that to me and all the staff I thought I was going to cry.” He said that restaurant reviews and comments come in on the corporate website all the time, but this was one of the first glowing reviews a staff person had received on Yelp, making it all the more noteworthy.
Maurice left our table and Matt and I looked at each other simply stunned. Matt remarked that my Yelp review – a review I wrote in jest as a dare from another friend – might have changed this guy’s life. Now I can’t say that for sure, because Maurice is pretty amazing in his own right and was going places on his own without any help from me. But someone else taking the time to notice his greatness and point it out? That probably didn’t hurt.
And so, on the heels of yesterday’s observations in Every Little Thing, I must say this: Not only does every little thing we say matter, we must always remember that every little thing we say can be incredibly powerful, too. Maurice – our Original Gangster of the Olive Garden – just told me so.
For the slightly more curious, feel free to read my Yelp review.