Individual Excellence in Customer Service
“My passion is for people, whether they be the beautiful bourgeoisie of St. Pete, the less fortunate in Williams Park, or more specifically for my life, the people of Haiti.”
Hello! My name is Alexx Bishop, and I am one of the 20 individuals that by some incredible whirl of obvious cosmic faux pas received a $1000 gift from your company on Friday, December 5th, 2014. I like to say that this life event is a “faux pas” because these things don’t happen to me- they happen to people in heart-warming internet articles and tear-jerking Youtube videos. With that being said, last Friday night when two of your employees came to dine at Annata, you can bet that the last thing on my mind was “these cats are gonna like me enough to hand me a thousand dollars!”. I remember them vividly and I always will. You see, I’ve been a server for about three years now. I started off at a New York style cocktail bar and restaurant in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio, back in 2012 serving mixed drinks and small flatbreads to 100+ people on the weekends. In the daytime I was your friendly neighborhood espresso-slinging, pour over brewing barista. I was very fortunate to work under a wonderful coffee geek, Paul (my boss/second dad) and a master of mixology who went by the name of “Curry”, both of whom were extremely passionate about their products. I learned a lot about coffee and liquor here, and quickly developed a love for quality beverages.
In July 2014, I decided that I couldn’t possibly put my dreams of seeing dolphins in real life on purpose (porpoise) on hold for another month, so I packed up my car and moved to St. Petersburg, FL. Paradise. Seriously, I’ve always wanted to be a traveler and see the world and the country, but I think I might have already found the best city in America. I don’t know, but it sure does feel that way! It was here that I found Annata. I walked in to apply for my first job in my new home and was greeted with a 10 question test over wine before I could even get to the application. I knew next to nothing about wine, so I answered the questions anyway to the best of my ability and fairly embarrassed, handed in my finished application. Soon after, I interviewed with Justin (the manager at Annata) and was honest about my lack of wine knowledge and extreme eagerness to learn about a brand new world of drinks. He must have seen how much the opportunity meant to me, and gave me a job. It has been an absolute honor ever since to work with a ground-level crew with compatible personalities, who got together to study hard for months before the restaurant was even open, and practiced serving one another without judgment, but with constructive critique. This. The way that the Mazzaro’s family welcomed us and educated us is what makes this job different. We are like a family here. We work together for the better of the whole, and it is succeeding.
The staff at this restaurant definitely makes the stress of serving to make a living worthwhile. I, personally, have never been a fan of wealth. I’ve seen the ways that money can end the closest of relationships and bring out the dark sides of people and I just never wanted to be a part of that, so I pursued industries that might not make me much money, but would provide me with an honest living from hard work. And you guessed it! It’s serving the bourgeoisie of this city, day in and day out, with a smile on my face. It does get hard sometimes though. I find that people often forget that servers are human beings and are only trying to do their jobs. I was enthralled by your employees that night because they were different. They stood out to me because they were NICE. I remember doing something that I don’t actually do very often, as it may make me seem unprofessional, and specifically stopping what I was doing at their table and just saying something along the lines of “Thank you for your smiles, the eye contact and your kindness. I don’t know if you have ever been a server but it really makes the night so much better to have such a friendly table”. Oh, and I meant it. It was first Friday after all. To whoever is reading this: if you look your server in the eyes and just smile, it will make all the difference in your brief relationship with that person. This is a server’s day-to-day! Why not make it positive?
After these two wonderful customers had paid their $51 tab (and can I add tipped an additional 25%), the young lady got up to leave and handed me a black, important looking envelope and said “thanks again! Here’s a little gift for the holidays!”. I smiled and, confused, took the envelope over to the service bar where I examined it. My co-worker said, “That’s a serious envelope! Maybe it’s an invitation to a funeral!(kidding)” and I laughed nervously, halfway thinking that there was just no way that I was going to be one of those heart-warming internet stories. Tears instantly welled in my eyes when I saw the money, and I nearly fainted for a moment. It felt like a dream.
A thousand dollars is more money than I have ever seen in cash at once. That might sound pathetic, but it’s true. I’ve never felt entitled to money, and I’ve always kind of worked month to month, and bill to bill, with little to spare in between. THIS is a blessing. This is a start. I moved here 5 months ago to be closer to dolphins, and I got that. But I have since realized that it isn’t my passion. My passion is for people, whether they be the beautiful bourgeoisie of St. Pete, the less fortunate in Williams Park, or more specifically for my life, the people of Haiti. I know it isn’t required to say what I would do with the $10,000 dollars if I won, but this is just too big of a possible coincidence not to share. I’ll keep it brief for your sake! I realized about two months ago that dolphins were not my whole passion. A little voice in my head screamed that it was for a life lived deliberately and with purpose without the burden of selfish indulgence. Back in 2010 I took a trip to Haiti after the earthquakes, and I fell in love with that little country. Two months ago I decided that I was going to plan a long-term mission (with absolutely zero answers to funding at that moment) to live in Haiti and provide as many people as possible with a means to live, be it water filtration systems, farming knowledge, or a business plan without a known religious affiliation. I don’t want to live comfortably. I am learning Creole and slowly putting details together to meet this goal in the next 1-2 years. I don’t believe this is a coincidence.
I honestly cannot thank all of the people involved with Squaremouth enough for this exciting and potentially incredible opportunity that you have placed in my life. I am so thankful for the $1000 dollars, even though I know of so many servers that deserve it more than I do. It is nice to know that our efforts don’t always go unnoticed. Thank you again.