Friday, January 20, 2012

Waiting Tables

One thing that my customers consistently remark is that I seem very cheerful to be waiting tables. I'm not sure how to take that. Should I appear to be miserable because I have a lowly restaurant job? Is it just a benign observation, or is there an implied comment about the station of my profession? The truth is, I appear to be cheerful when I'm waiting tables because I honestly like my job.

You see, I used to have an office job. I was a medical records clerk. I had reliable hours and pay. The pharmaceutical reps brought great lunches all the time. It was always... nice. Unfortunately, to say that my job was dull is much like saying that the Sistine Chapel is painted nicely. If there are any physicists looking to examine time abnormalities, they might want to check that office. I'm fairly certain that time does not move at a pace relative to the rest of the universe in that building. My general day consisted of something like this:
"Hi Helena, copy this chart." *I am handed a 500 page chart, and I resign myself to a few long hours of sitting at our ancient copy machine, copying each page individually, and adding the copy to the new pile.*
Now I work at a beautiful high-end waterfront restaurant. As I take my tables, I can look out of the marina and see the sun setting onto a strip of Dunedin islands, the pink and orange sky gently dotted with the silhouettes of palm trees. I'm immersed in a bouillabaisse of culture - people come from all over to visit our powdery white beaches. Occasionally I'll get to wait on some random B-list celebrity, and that'll be a fun novelty to bring up next time I dish with friends. I enjoy the huge palette of diversity; it thrills me that an exquisite tapestry of seemingly every variation of humanity is woven into the experience.

People of every color, creed, ability, and disability come together to share a meal with one another, and I delight in taking part in the experience. My moments aren't the magic- most of mine involve scraping plates and carrying drinks. The moments I truly enjoy aren't mine at all- they are little pieces of moments that belong to other people. Based on really nothing other than proximity, I get to quietly enjoy their moments. I smile as I see excited new parents feeding tiny bites of their meal to their new babies. I revel on the inside when I see big families clearly excited to be together taking snapshots. Usually, I'll jump in and offer to take one of everybody together. I don't know these people - more often than not, I'll never see them again after I drop the check. They'll fly back to Wyoming or wherever they came from, and I'll go on with my life- but for that moment, I get to enjoy their joy.

If I do my job correctly, they won't remember me. When they look at the photo of the whole family together, they won't remember the waitress in the pink shirt who asked if they wanted her to take a photo. They'll remember laughing and talking with each other; maybe that face Uncle Frank made when he saw his hamburger, or something cute one of the kids did. They will remember the wonderful meal they had together when they went to that restaurant in Florida. So when people ask me why I look so cheerful and I reply that I like my job, maybe they shrug it off as a server's rote, scripted answer.

The truth? I like my job.

1 comment:

  1. There is no greater joy in life than that which comes from doing what you really enjoy. There really, in my opinion, are no lowly jobs nor lofty jobs . . .there are good people and dull people, I am happy that you enjoy what you pleases you and it pleases others. Blessings.....