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Vol. 34, No. 2

Diners, menus, and service

by William R. Bay

Seven o’clock Wednesday morning. I sit at the counter of a diner from a long-ago era. There are seven stools at the counter, and I have the one on the far left. There’s a copy of today’s newspaper. It’s a nice way to spend a few minutes before heading to the office. The grill is in plain view, a mere 3 feet away, partially obscured by the short-order cook. It takes only a few minutes to get my order and finish the food and the paper. I come every day to eat. Sometimes twice a day. My spouse thinks I’m crazy. But I’m a creature of habit. And I like diners like this one.

The reasons are simple. When I walk in, they know who I am. They call me by name. They ask me how my day is. They know what I like—even without asking. For breakfast, my favorite is two eggs and a hotcake. For lunch, it’s a salad with chicken. But if I choose, I can go to the menu and pick out something else. Biscuits and gravy. Turkey melt. Chili fries. Burgers. Some days, I’m in the mood for something totally different. And that means a creation that is not on the menu. Like chili over hash browns. Or hotcakes topped with scrambled eggs and bacon.

An authentic diner is about giving the customer something special. Not just your favorite food, but a friendly face. A smile. Remembering your name. Giving you a newspaper. Keeping your coffee or Diet Pepsi filled. That’s service, and it means a lot. The people who work at the diner are like that. They get my day started right. They aim to please. Maybe you have a place like that where you live and work. I hope so.

In the bar world, the ABA Division for Bar Services (and the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services) is a good place to stop in and visit regularly. Like a good diner, it’s a place where everyone knows your name. When you call or e-mail or stop by to talk at a meeting, we know who you are. We know your bar and your executive director, and we know the challenges you face.

We also have an extensive menu of services to meet your needs. Menu items include public service projects you can replicate, guidelines for bar governance, suggestions for articles. We offer help on issues like civic education, the independence of the judiciary, fundraising, social networking, CLE. Most anything you can think of, we can deliver or point you in the right direction—maybe to another part of the ABA or a state or local bar that has faced that issue. And if it is something new you want to create, we have resources to help with that, too.

It’s a “can do” world where staff and volunteers alike are eager to serve and meet the needs of the moment. Programs. Information. Resources. Making you a better leader. Making our bars and profession better. And we know the difference we can make working together—our state, local, and specialty bars working hand in hand with the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world—your American Bar Association.

Check us out online, in print, or the old-fashioned way—just call; there’s a detailed contact list on the Web site. We are always open and ready to serve. Our menu is extensive, and we always keep your cup full. I trust you’ll find that a visit gets you ready for each challenging day of your bar year. As for me, I’ll head back to my favorite diner for lunch. I am going to order a double burger with bacon on grilled rye. If you happen to stop by, I’ll be sitting at the counter.