Better Late than Never…

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “better late than never”… and probably more times than they would like to try to count. I know I am posting a day before Friday (which is my usual posting day!), but technically I am a week late from when I should have blogged last week. Does it work for me to just use the excuse of “better late than never?”

For some people, that saying is just a way for them to casually disregard missing a deadline or wishing you happy birthday months after you’ve officially aged by number.It is a poor excuse to use. As I continue to grow up, it becomes more apparent that taking responsibility for actions, meeting deadlines and such is how to make it out alive in the adult world. (Though, that is not to say that some adults don’t somehow manage to survive with being lazy and acting blameless). But, what about taking the blame for another person?

While starting to wait on a couple that had just sat down in a booth at my work, an incident happened that struck both my heart and and my view on responsibility. We were somewhat busy at the restaurant. I was quickly trying to get from table to table taking orders, delivering food and checking on meals. I had delivered menus and drinking water to a man and woman (assumed to be husband and wife) to a booth and as I was heading back around the dining room before getting their meal order, the man stopped be abruptly. He got my attention. Across the table from him, his wife was unbuttoning her pants in a manner than seemed like she thought it was appropriate to undress. The man was telling her not to do that, he was telling her to stop. But not understanding, she didn’t stop. She was confused. She couldn’t understand why she was supposed to be unbuttoning her pants. The man told her to get up, to leave, that they were not eating dinner there and would now be going home. The woman protested but gave in, knowing that he was in charge. They left the restaurant.

While I cleared their drinks off the table and wiped it down to set up for other customers, I processed what had just happened. It became apparent that the woman had aged in the mind and wasn’t any longer fully aware of her surroundings and what was considered socially acceptable. I realized that the man was not trying to control her, but save both of them from embarrassment in a public place before anything could escalate. This incident bothered me emotionally because I felt bad for the woman’s aging. What fun can it possibly be to live knowing your body is not agreeing how it needs to? I felt bad for the man. How awful was it to know your wife is no longer a companion, but a woman you baby-sit?

The same couple came into the restaurant the very next night.

I recognized the couple, but they were not seated in my section to wait on. While I was at the coffee machine, the man approached me. He asked me if I had been his waitress the night before. I answered “yes” and he proceeded to apologize. He took blame for his wife’s actions the previous night and he also explained to me the situation with her memory loss and such. I told him more than once that it was alright and no need to apologize, but he would not have it that way. He wanted to take action and make sure I knew he was sorry. He wanted to take responsibility.

He really didn’t need to say that he was sorry. The responsibility that he took for something he hadn’t even done really touched me. It was so nice to experience an apology so sincere for an incident that he didn’t even cause. Growing up, my parents have forced me to take more responsibility, even though I complain and act like nothing could ever be my fault. Still, they continue to make me accept blame and realize that I am just as equally at fault in situations. After this experience at work, it made me realize that apologizing is just the first step for many things–but also, I need to take responsibility for how I respond to the outcome of situations, even if I was not the one to create that outcome. After all, it does go hand-in-hand with growing up.

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