The Waiter Test


In a devotion in Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions by Diane Eble, Diane says one way to reveal a person’s heart is to apply the waiter test.

Look at how a person treats a waiter. If a waiter spills water on him, how does he react? Does he kindly say, “It’s okay, the water will dry,” or does he make a big scene?

One of my first jobs was a waitress, so I am familiar with being on the receiving end of seeing a bit into people’s hearts through the waiter test. Who would think, however, that while Pilot and I celebrated a special dinner out, I would have an opportunity to experience the waiter test from the customer’s side of the table?

It was apparent the waitress was new and inexperienced even before she poured my glass of iced water, then knocked it over into my lap.

In startled surprise at just how very cold that full glass of water was as it hit my lap, I yelped something like “Oh! That’s cold!”

The people at the table next to us saw the whole thing. They continued to stare as the poor flustered girl tried to mop the water from my lap. I felt so badly for her. True she’s the one who spilled the water, but that doesn’t mean it was intentional.

Like suggested in the devotion, I honestly did tell the waitress, “It’s okay. Really. My dress will dry. It’s cotton. Don’t worry about it. But, I would like another napkin or two.” as I flapped the skirt of my dress back and forth in an attempt to dry it. Honestly, I have no idea why I mentioned the dress was cotton. Maybe to show water really wouldn’t hurt it?

I didn’t need to think twice about how to respond to the situation. It wasn’t like I acted one way because people at the next table were looking, and would act another if they weren’t. I’m just really glad what spilled wasn’t something hot.

Applying the waiter test is a good idea, but might I suggest we apply it to more people than only waiters? The way we treat each person matters.

How about a sales clerk test? Drive through order taker test? Receptionist test? Bus driver test? Co-worker test? Hotel maid test? Person on the cell phone not paying attention to where they are going test? Family member test?

What are your experiences with the waiter test?

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As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.


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6 thoughts on “The Waiter Test

  1. This is Right On, Sandy!….we all can use this……except for the person on the cell phone!


  2. This is all so true. I have often wondered how the treatment of service industry professionals might be fundamentally changed if everyone had to complete a year of service there. I am grateful for my years spent as a checker at a grocery store, as a daycare worker, as a swim lessons instructor, these were jobs that allowed me to serve others and deeply appreciate those who serve me now. In this current season, those grocery store workers have been real heroes!


    • You are right. We might treat other workers differently if we spent time doing their jobs, and grocery store workers as well as health care providers are absolute heroes. I’ve been a checker and daycare worker too. Never taught swimming lessons, but did teach school. Lots of serving with each of those jobs. 🙂


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