As most of you probably know, I started working at my new job as a server about a month ago… Don’t ask me why, but as a young girl, it had always been my dream to work as a waitress during the college years of my life. Needless to say, attaining this job means so much to me. It definitely reassures me that I am perfectly adequate, or maybe even more than adequate, to support the parts of myself that are lacking in confidence and self-esteem. These little accomplishments are reminders that I am stronger and more capable than I allow myself to believe most of the time… and tonight, I received another one of those reminders that leave my heart feeling full and at peace.
The restaurant was busy for a Monday night, especially with the heavy rain pouring down on the Bay. The phones were going off every few seconds– just when I thought I’d finally caught a chance to regroup and attend to my dine-in customers, I’d get another call for a pizza to be delivered. I had tables left and right– asking for more water, waiting on more wine glasses because we ran out of clean ones, and needing food to be delivered to. I was bouncing from one corner to another, talking to the dishwasher, hopping to all the ends of the dining room, cutting pizzas that needed to be boxed, and answering the ringing phone lines. It felt chaotic, to say the least. To be honest, it wasn’t even a full house and I wasn’t by myself, but it was the most I’ve ever done in the realm of what I knew and I felt like I was pushing myself over the edge (“Should I be carrying this right now??” I asked myself with hesitation, as I walked shakily with two bottles of wine, three dainty wine glasses, and two plates in hand).
And then this man comes in. Sits in the far corner of the restaurant. Orders one of those pricey entrees and a root beer. Despite all of my internal madness, I treat him like I treat everybody else– that his satisfaction in his dining experience is a priority (my previous job was a two-year nightmare that taught me that customers come first, NO MATTER WHAT. Yeah, it was terrible).
Wait, let’s pause in my story. Let me just make something clear. Yes, I had a pretty horrible experience in my old restaurant job, but that’s because of management issues and constant rude customers that I’d mentally choke because I was forced to bite my tongue. I dreaded working at that place and I hated being fake and putting up a nice, hospitable facade when really, they treated us less than human a lot of the time. But this new restaurant is different because of the setting, pace, and general vibe of the management and customers. I don’t feel replaceable anymore, I don’t feel the incessant paranoia like I am constantly being watched on the cameras, I don’t have to worry about being on my feet for hours and not even getting a meal to compensate for all the tedious work that I’ve done; I actually feel valued and respected. So now, when I say that I prioritize customer satisfaction, it isn’t superficial mumbo-jumbo. I actually mean it. I’m happy with where I work and my smiles are genuine. It really warms my heart when I have positive interactions with guests… it is the holiday season, after all!
Continuing my story.
I regularly attend to this man, refilling his drink and apologizing for the delay of his order. But eventually, he finishes his meal, asks for his check. He signals me when he’s done dealing with the bill, hands me the checkbook, and tells me to keep the change. I thank him then head to the register to deal with the transaction.
Once I’m at the register, I open the book… there’s way too much money in there. I’m in shock for a split-second, but then I snap out of it and hurry back to the man before he left. I could barely stammer my words out: “Sir, are you sure…?” He responds without a hint of hesitation, “Yes. You deserve it. You’ve worked really hard.” Fighting the tears that were ready to flow out, I thank him and let myself absorb the goodness that just transpired.
And the thing is, it isn’t even about the amount that he gave me. Of course it feels nice to receive a big tip as a waitress, but it was beyond that for me. It’s that someone truly appreciated my efforts and reaffirmed me that everything does (figuratively and literally) pay off if I give 110% in all that I do.
It just feels pretty darn amazing to know that my best is good enough to make others feel happy and satisfied. This ordinary man had all the choice to do anything else other than give to me in such a generous way that he did… but what happened, happened, and it goes to show that our actions can really leave a stamp on the hearts of others.
As we approach the new year, I pray that all of us will become more and more reflective of our impact on people’s lives. Yeah, those wine glasses that I dealt with this evening were fragile and delicate, and it definitely would’ve been easier to succumb and let them break. And much in the same way, human beings are so susceptible to damage, too. It’s easy to slip, say things that we don’t really mean, act recklessly… it doesn’t take a lot to hurt another person… our skin isn’t that thick. But it does take more effort to make someone else feel whole and great. So let’s do that. I encourage all of you to take a little more time to support each other, to lift each other up, to remind one another that we are good enough, even at our shakiest. Trust me, you’re helping yourself just as much as you are helping others… you get in as much joy as you put out. Beautiful, isn’t it?