I once worked at Restaurant Selecta, an Indonesian Food restaurant at the heart of Amsterdam. I worked there for 3 months, and they are one of the best experiences I had in serving people. But there was an experience that I will never forget when I had to serve people from North Sumatra.
The restaurant has group guests. Usually they are groups of Indonesian people who travel around Europe with a certain holiday package. These groups of people will have traveled for a couple of days before they come to Amsterdam. That means they will certainly miss Indonesian food after a few days of European bread experience.
One day, we had a group of 30 guests from North Sumatera for lunch. They were doctors and most of them are Batak, people of my own ethnic group. I noticed that from their language and accent. I was the only one who was working on that day.
After serving them, they began the usual chit chat customers have with the waiters.
“Sudah lama di sini dek?” (How long have you been here – in Netherlands?), they asked.
“Not long, I’m actually a student working part time here.”
“Ooh, what do you study?” someone asked.
I said, “Theology.”
They started to whisper to each other. Mind you, most of Batak are Christian, and they know if someone is studying theology, it means they are a minister or a future pastor. Pastor is a highly regarded profession in Batak society.
“Ow, theology. Are you a pastor?”
“Yes.” I answered. “Well, sort of.”
They started whispering again.
“Are you doing your bachelor or master?” One asked me.
“I’m doing my PhD now.” I replied.
The whispers were hard not to notice now. “He’s a pastor doing a PhD…”
“From which church are you, sir?” They started to add the ‘sir’ (pak) now.
“I’m from HKBP church. I noticed that you are also from Batak.” I said.
They jumped to their surprise, “Most of us are also from HKBP. Some are from HKBP Sudirman Medan, amang (sir – that’s how they called a pastor in HKBP).”
Afterwards, we talked a bit more about their trip, and I noticed that they didn’t ask or order anything anymore, probably because they hesitate to ask me to serve them. I had to fill up their water automatically because they didn’t order it. They hesitate to ask for water even when I know that they needed it.
At the end of the lunch, they all stood in line to shake my hand, just like at the end of a church service. They also gave me extra tip, I got more than a hundred euros tip that particular day, which then I spent on a new suit for preaching.
I guess the moral of the story is, if you want more tip, tell the guest that you are a pastor.
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