The parable of eating out

The parable of eating out

A man wanted to eat out as he was tired of eating at home; the meals in the restaurants would be provided by trained personnel; they would be varied, planned, balanced, high quality; he could enjoy three-course meals that would satisfy all areas of his palate and enrich his culinary experience; the opportunity would also save him time and energy when he had many other calls on his life.

The hardest part was choosing which restaurant he should visit out of the many that were available in that city.

There were expensive, expansive, exclusive, up-market, smart, spacious ones with highly-qualified and experienced staff; there were quieter, quainter, quality ones with dedicated and welcoming waiters and cooks; there were smaller ones with intimate surroundings and personal, individual attention and assistance; there were older ones with a strong tradition and colourful history; there were newer ones with a simpler menu.

Some provided a la carte menus, buffet style, while others offered only set menus within which there were varying degrees of choice.

Each had their own particular requirements of dress code, behaviour, hours and music.

Furthermore, each offered something different, whether it was a different style of cuisine or a unique ambience.

 Some offered a fully Zimbabwean menu, while there were others that offered special Chinese, American, Mozambican, Belgian, Russian, Indian, Dutch, Greek or English menus.

 Some were placed in quiet corners of the city with plenty of parking and easy access; others were found within a hotel, open to residents and non-residents alike; others still were further out-of-town, giving a more relaxed feel to the place.

Once he had decided to eat out, the man had a serious choice to make, dependent on his tastes, finances, beliefs, diet, needs and wife. After some careful consideration he made up his mind and ventured forth with great excitement to the restaurant of choice.

He became a regular there and enjoyed all that was on offer. One day, he asked to see the manager and enquired if the restaurant would change the menu for him as it did not quite provide him with what he wanted.

The manager advised him politely that while he respected the man as his valued customer he could not make exceptions to the menu. The man, naturally disappointed, accepted the decision and continued to eat at the restaurant.

The man gradually got to know other patrons of the restaurant, regulars like him, and in talking with them he found that others also were keen to have the same changes made to the menu as him.

 Together they approached the manager and asked him to change the menu as there were now many people who were of the same mind.

 Again, however, the manager declined, stating that the restaurant had its own particular vision of what food it would provide.

He suggested graciously that there were other restaurants that might already be offering them what they wanted. The customers responded that they had been loyal supporters of the restaurant for many years so their voice should be heard, stressing that the restaurant might lose a lot of customers if they did not change but the manager insisted that the restaurant would stick to its roots and values and not compromise what was the original dream of the founder.

Hard times fell on that city, making it hard for the patrons to continue to eat out but they did not want to forgo coming to that restaurant.

The same group of patrons approached the manager and asked for the prices to be lowered, as they could not afford to come any longer and had not been consulted; the manager respectfully declined saying that the prices were all necessary.

The patrons then asked that they be allowed to have their meals but pay later, assuring him that they would pay.

 Unsurprisingly, the manager insisted that he could not accept such novel terms.

They were now no longer well fed but fed up. The reality was that many wanted a steak but could only afford a hamburger. What could they do?

 They discussed this at length, considering many options, but struggled to accept the solution before them.

They had a choice to make.

He who has children to educate, let him hear.

Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS. Email: [email protected]

website: www.atschisz

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