Luby’s waitress Melina Salazar believed that every customer deserved to be treated with kindness and a smile — no matter how irritable they were in return.
The server from Brownsville, Texas treated all her customers with the same level of respect, and the same sunny disposition. Her ability to deliver professionalism and hospitable service truly never wavered — even, during a seven-year span, when she dealt with one of her trickier customers.
89-year old Walter “Buck” Swords sat in Melina’s section every day she worked for over seven straight years.
He certainly didn’t make things easy on her or the restaurant.
For the irritable customer, something always seemed to be wrong.
Whether he was unhappy about the food or the other customers in the restaurant, there was rarely a day that went by without Swords delivering some negative words to someone in his vicinity. He always wanted his food to be burning hot, Salazar explained, even if it burned him – which was another problem there in itself.
His attitude didn’t seem to faze Salazar, though.
Every day she worked, Swords sat in Salazar’s section — and every day, she provided him the same excellent service she gave even the friendliest of customers. It was as if his cloudy disposition rolled right off her without making a dent; although plenty of others at the Luby’s wanted nothing to do with the elderly man, Salazar found serving him to be almost therapeutic. She did it day after day, growing accustomed to his halfhearted barbs.
Then, one day, Swords didn’t come in.
Salazar quickly discovered in the local obituary that the older gentleman had passed away in hospice care, just three days short of his 90th birthday. After years and years of their unique interactions, Swords was gone — and although he hadn’t had many to turn to in his final days, she couldn’t believe she wouldn’t get the chance to see him again.
That wouldn’t be the last she’d hear of him, though.
Not long after she heard of his passing, just a few days before Christmas, the waitress was paid a visit at work by a lawyer.
He sat her down at a table, explaining that he had come to her on behalf of Swords— who, it seemed, had noticed her kind demeanor after all.
Although he’d never admitted it during his meals, Swords had been cheered by Salazar’s attitude and positive presence. So much, it seemed, that he’d told his lawyer how much he looked forward to seeing her every day — and so much, in fact, that he’d left her a little something before he passed on.
Part of his inheritance, the lawyer informed Salazar, was now hers. The late Swords had left $50,000 of his estate to her, along with a 2000 Buick car — which may seem trivial to some, but was a huge blessing for the service worker.
Before Swords left her the money, Salazar had been working at the local restaurant for a whopping 16 years. She couldn’t believe what her positive mannerisms had resulted in —- but, as she reminded others, kindness is both given and received.
“Just smile”, she explained. “They may cuss at you, but just ignore it.” After all — you never know when your positive attitude could mean the world to them.