A Year of Stories: “Be Patient”
Two years ago I was hired to perform at a small company holiday party for a local business that was in the process of gaining global recognition.
I was tasked to spend cocktail hour doing strolling magic for the 30 or so attendees, and then also 20-30 min of stand-up magic after dinner.
Cocktail hour went very well. Everybody was kind and welcoming, and people reacted enthusiastically to the magic. When cocktail hour was over I was told that there would be a meal available for me in the bar area, while the entire party went into the dining room to start their meal process.
As a corporate and private event entertainer I have eaten many lonely meals in a separate room, making idle chit-chat with the bartender and scrolling mindlessly down my Facebook newsfeed.
The dinner process was supposed to be about 45 minutes and then I would start the stand-up portion right as dessert was starting to come out.
After an hour, when nobody had come for me, I decided to check in with my contact, the owner of the company, to see if they were just about ready to start the show. When I found her, she looked mortified:
“I’m so sorry. The kitchen seems to be running behind. We haven’t even received our meals yet.”
“Oh,” I replied. “No problem. Do you have a sense of when they’ll be coming out?”
“Hopefully very soon,” she said tentatively. “I’m really sorry. We’ll eat as quickly as possible.”
“No, please, just enjoy your meal when it comes out. Come give me a 10 minutes heads up before the start of the show, when dinner is winding down, if you can.”
“I will, absolutely. Thank you so much,” she said.
I didn’t have another engagement that evening. If I did this would have been a different conversation, of course, out of necessity. But the only thing I was waiting for was to go home and put on Netflix. I could surely be patient for that.
So I wandered back to my empty bar and made some calls. I talked to my dad for a bit, I texted my wife (then my girlfriend). I played around with a pack of cards.
Finally after a total of at least 2 hours from the end of the cocktail hour, they were ready for me to start.
The stand-up show was phenomenally received. I had so much fun with the group and received many accolades.
When I had packed up, the owner gave me my check, made out by the company, and added $100 in cash of her own money.
“Thank you so much. We really, really appreciate it.”
I told her it was a pleasure and that I looked forward to working together again. She went on to hire me for the following year’s company party, give me a glowing testimonial, and acted as a referral for a big prospective client.
Mom always said that patience is a virtue. In our “now” world, when everything exists in an instant, that idiom has never been more true.
I could have stood on my principles, pulled out my contract and told her that the show is over by X time whether they are ready or not. I chose to spend an extra bored hour twiddling my thumbs, and for that I gained a professional friend for life, not to mention a nice tip.
It doesn’t take much to make people happy in business or in life. Be easy to work with. Be kind. Be patient.
Until next time,
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Connect with Brian!
- A Year of Stories: “Faking Confidence” July 24, 2016
- A Year of Stories: “Professional Courtesy” July 17, 2016
- A Year of Stories: “Be Patient” July 10, 2016
- A Year of Stories: “Just Ask” a.k.a. How I Got Sponsored July 3, 2016
- A Year of Stories: “Meeting Kristen Schaal” June 26, 2016