Serving tables has forced me to take a good, hard look at myself. Here are my flaws:
- I’m far too easily offended.
- I prioritize the wrong things.
- I fret over customers’ approval and take their dismissive behavior too personally.
- I really want customers to like me! Please! Like me! (Ugh. It’s pathetic.)
- I apologize constantly–even for things that aren’t my fault.
It’s not all bad, though. My bosses say I’m doing a great job and I’ve found that I can channel my ADD into an intuitive “flow,” especially when the restaurant is busy. Here are my strengths:
- I’m personable, friendly and have a strong work ethic.
- I can make customers laugh.
- I can memorize multiple orders.
- I truly enjoy making people happy.
- I know how to work as a team with other servers.
Being a waitress has also required me to graciously serve people I would otherwise avoid: lawyers, condescending businessmen, Sugar Daddies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, persnickety old ladies, fundamentalist pastors, entitled rich people, misogynistic Mormon husbands who don’t let their wives order for themselves, snippy Ladies Who Lunch, cheapskates.
With all these people I’ve had to put aside my judgmental attitudes and serve them kindly–not just because I’m hoping they’ll tip well (some do, some don’t) but because treating people kindly is the right thing to do. On more than one occasion, it’s been an exercise in holding my tongue, extinguishing my opinions and adorning my face with a pleasant expression.
It’s been so difficult for me to do this I’ve realized how accustomed I’ve become to speaking my mind. On everything and anything. With impunity.
I humbly acknowledge that I’ve viewed speaking my mind as my right. Perhaps this is the downside of having a blog. I can spout off my rants and opinions whenever I like. Being a server, I don’t have the luxury of telling Mr. Fundy Pastor what I think about his obnoxious behavior. Instead, I have to smile and ask if he’d like a (FOURTH!) refill–without the teensiest hint of sarcasm.
This is good for me. If nothing else, it’s keeping me humble. It’s also helping me see past the initial masks most people wear. How often I’ve gotten stuck on my first bad impression of others. How often I’ve let one look, one surly comment define my entire view of another human being. How unfair I’ve been!
Even the difficult customers, I’ve discovered, are all just very human. We get hungry and we get tired and this makes us grumpy. Most of us are far happier after tucking ourselves into a delicious, hot meal–especially if it comes with gracious, sincere service.
Sometimes I think we could bring more peace to the world by sitting down together for a meal. We’re tired, we’re grumpy. We spill more blood in more wars because we’re all just desperately hungry.
Instead of hurling empty rhetoric at each other from behind impersonal computer screens, what if we committed to sharing meals with our “enemies”?
What if we could lay down our pride and simply serve each other?