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The Lost Art of Service

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on September 29, 2015 at 7:35 PM

My nine year old sister Aubrey and I take on many adventures together, whether it's writing and performing a play, building a clubhouse, learning a new song, or hunting for every last stone statue in town and memorizing its location. Our latest adventure has been joining our dear friend, Ulla Kesler, and serving tea at her bed and breakfast and tearoom, Tipping Teapot Farm.

Ulla has truly mastered the art of hospitality. Bringing lost culture and ways of life back to center stage, her tea room is the perfect place to step back and slow down for a few hours. Ulla treats each guest with personal service and to a delicious three course meal. You sit, we serve.

Serving with Ulla has been tons of fun for me and my sister, but it has also been an incredible learning experience. We have the best mentor. She truly cares and has a sincere heart for serving others. Tipping Teapot Farm is the one place we never have time to stop and think about ourselves. Our focus is on everyone else in the room. We are servants, and Ulla teaches how to serve best. In our rushed, self centered culture today, even being the one serving in such an environment is a refreshing change of pace. Peace, calm, and class are all intangibles that are felt in the aura of the place.

Ulla dreamed of opening a tea room for many years, and now her dream is coming true. She is blessing the lives of others, if only for a few hours at a time, while they enjoy tea and treats in her home. I'm the lucky one who gets to keep coming back to watch and work alongside her.

Truly, Ulla's goal every time she has guests is to bless them with a quiet peaceful place to sit back, stop rushing, and start enjoying.

Everyone could benefit from a visit to Tipping Teapot Farm, as a server and as a guest. But as a server I have learned a few things we can all put into better practice to make life a little sweeter wherever we may be.

First, presentation matters. At Tipping Teapot Farm the people serving the meal are like actors, putting on a show for the pleasure of our audience. The famous quote of Shakespeare, “all the world's a stage,” fits the situation perfectly.

One way Ulla shows she values her guests is her attention to detail. With flowers and candles gracing the tables and each plate emaculate in it's appearance, Ulla is saying to her guests “you are worth it.” From mint leaves decorating the side of a plate, to salad toppings cut into the shape of hearts, Ulla suprises me with her creative flair and attention to details. Some of my personal favorites have been mint leaves, which make anything look a little more beautiful, and salad toppers cut out in the shapes of hearts. Ulla continutes to surprise me with her creativite attention to detail.

Second, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” I have such a 'git-er-done attitude that I tend to rush and I can be so goal oriented that people can feel my tension in the air. Getting things done and meeting goals is fine, but creating stress and a stressful environment is not the goal of Tipping Teapot Farm. As a server, it is my job to keep my cool, stay calm, and carry on. If I am peaceful, things go smoothly and more efficiently, resulting in quicker service and a better overall experience for everyone.

Which leads me to the third thing I have learned. Even though as a server I take a back seat to the atmosphere and the food, how I look and behave creates so much of the mood and overall atmosphere. Servers should be as appealing as the food and the environment. Dressing formally in black and white and paying attention to the details of how our hair is done and how we carry ourselves matters. Smiling, no matter what, not stressing, speaking with kindness and humility, and seeking to serve as much as possible all makes a contribution to the success of the tea.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the food tastes great, but the people serving it have sour attitudes? Somehow, it makes the whole experiences less enjoyable.

Lastly, and most importantly, I've learned that it's never about me. No matter how I feel, how people are treating me, or what happens in the course of a tea, it's not about me. If I am serving a grateful customer or one who can only remember to speak up when they notice a problem, and they notice them all, it's not about me. I might go right back to being self-serving when I get home, but while I'm with Ulla, I have no choice but to put myself aside, lock it in the closet, and serve others. Ulla is helping redeem the art of serving others in me.

Amazingly, Ulla always has a cheerful attitude of service. Serving tea is still real life. Sometimes the scones won't bake in time or we may forget to set out spoons, but if anyone ever notices, they don't care, because they know that they've been loved and valued in Ulla's presence. People may not remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel, and people come away from Tipping Teapot Farm feeling special. For Ulla this is not just an act, she believes each person walking through her door is special, and it's her genuine heart that makes her service and example such an inspirational one.

Categories: Redeeming the Arts

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