It was a clear, beautiful Sunday afternoon outside the Ruby Tuesday restaurant. Inside was another story. The eatery's environment was hectic, with our waiter constantly rushing by, unwittingly ignoring my need for a refill of my lemon water and my friend's desire for more Dr. Pepper. Still, while awaiting the arrival of our food, we were able to comfortably share a conversation in spite of the feverish pace of the staff.
"I'm telling you, you're going to love this Alpine Swiss Burger," my friend said with epicurean fervor. "It's the best!" Before I could murmur a response, our waiter appeared with an air of imposition and a tray that carried what looked like my order. He asked, "Alpine Swiss?" I gingerly raised my hand and instantly beheld a steaming burger that beckoned me to take a bite. So I gladly obliged.
But I noticed something odd. I meekly displayed my burger to my friend, asking, "Does this look like medium-rare to you?" Without hesitance my friend declared, "Not only is that well done, that's not even a hamburger," emphasized by his finger pointing squarely at the sandwich. "That's turkey burger!"
I looked at what I once thought was my hamburger with a deflated spirit. I soon found that the dish I was given rightfully belonged to a woman seated nearby. Because her order would be that much further delayed due to the waiter's error, my friend and I agreed that one of us needed to speak up. I did so with surprising ease.
I caught the attention of our waiter and politely complained to him about the mix-up. Within minutes, the woman beheld her steaming turkey burger, just the way she wanted it. She looked at us and smiled as I received my Alpine Swiss Burger, just the way I wanted it: medium-rare, sans turkey burger.
If I had felt alone in voicing my displeasure, I would have had little confidence that what I was annoyed by was really worth complaining about. But knowing that my grievance was shared and supported by my friend, and discovering that the woman could have been forced to wait unnecessarily, helped me to speak up. Knowing that I was not alone in my annoyance encouraged me to complain, not just for my sake, but also for the sake of someone else.