When I started typing this, I was in period between schools where I couldn’t get a real, “big girl” job because I graduated from Appalachian State in May and started nursing school in January. In my holding time, I was (and still am) blessed with the opportunity to be a waitress.
Trust me, I grappled with using the word “blessed” when describing being a waitress because some days the job makes me so frustrated I could cry, but other days it makes my heart so happy; maybe after I share a few things with you’ll see why.
When I first started, I was an absolutely trash waitress (you can honestly ask anyone, like, it was bad).
It’s not that I didn’t care about my job, because I did, it’s just that my brain moves a lot faster than my mouth does and I forget a lot of things (which is truly a huge obstacle I have to overcome when I do anything at all). Anyone that knows me knows I have sticky notes for everything, I ask the same question about 5 times before it gets stuck in my brain, and if I don’t write something in my planner then it probably won’t happen.
With all that being said and waitressing being almost 100% memory, use your imagination on just how terrible I really was.
I’ve never quit or given up on anything in my life unless I absolutely had to, especially a job, and I was really considering doing just that. I so obviously have too much pride to ever admit defeat (which I am desperately working on), so I decided to pretend that every table was my friend.
If I were waiting on my friends, how would I treat them? Wouldn’t I want to give them the best care imaginable? Wouldn’t I want their experience to be top notch and for them to leave happy? Wouldn’t I want them to think they were in good hands?
Yeah, I would. So, I did just that.
It didn’t happen over night and it certainly didn’t happen in a few weeks, maybe even months, but it happened. Those strange faces I greeted every few minutes with what used to be fake enthusiasm and a robotic list of that night’s specials turned into actual enthusiasm because I was serving my friends.
I love everything about my regulars and the faces that I’ve grown to recognize in my time as a server.
There’s my regulars, two amazing women and their sweet 3 year old daughter who runs to hug me every time she sees me with a big grin. She gets “ice cream” at the end of dinner, which is basically whipped cream in a bowl, but she won’t know that for quite some time. Over the months I’ve gotten to know them, they feel like family. I love hearing about what their daughter is loving that particular day or month (last month she loved band-aids), their triumphs and struggles, joking about our biggest annoyance of the day, and the little insignificant things. One of those women, Sally*, always gets a Diet Coke and a glass of Moscato, so when she came in I said, “Can I get you a glass for your long day?” She smiled and replied, “I would love one but I can’t.”
“Okay…” I thought “why not?” until I saw her holding her stomach and grinning at me; SHE WAS PREGNANT.
This woman who was once a stranger was now embracing my teary-eyed self and celebrating the fact she was having another child, a dream she wasn’t sure would become a reality.
There’s one of my favorite couples that comes in where the husband, Stan*, will talk to me the whole time about how he has traveled the world, eaten the best food there is, experienced the best culture, beaten cancer four times, sold his business after many successful years, and has an abundance of grandchildren whom he and his wife (who truly has the kindest spirit of anyone that has come into that restaurant) love so dearly. They never fail to make me smile, especially Stan* who is never shy to impart wisdom on me (I love to listen, so it works out), a simple server. I don’t think they really know how much they mean to me.
There’s my favorite fella, George*, who comes in with his own mug, always waiting to be filled with Diet Coke, while he works on his computer or reads. He always gets the same thing, a salad he creates and has chopped, and though it may seem pretty lack luster, his routine is something so comforting to me- I love familiarity and the sense of knowing what is next. We don’t say more than a few words, the regular “how are you’s” and “how is your day,” but I love knowing he will come in and always be steadfast in what he wants.
Next, there’s my ALL TIME favorite couple, Anthony* and his wife Grace*. They literally have my whole heart in their hands. Anthony will come in with his two grandsons and ask if I’m there, telling everyone how I’m going to be a pediatric oncology nurse one day while he waits to be sat. They will tell me about their day, their marriage, their happiness, offer so many hugs and words of encouragement when I feel like my whole life is falling apart, and tell me they love me. I wish I could emphasize to y’all how much that means to me. I’m very careful with the word “love” because for a long time I didn’t believe in it or know what proper love was. I told myself only special people worthy of my heart deserved love, and while that mentality of what love is differs for everyone, knowing that, maybe, they thought I was deserving of their love was enough to keep me working and pushing through on even the hardest nights.
There’s Larry* and Brad* who are beekeepers and come in every Tuesday night for music bingo, BBQ chicken nachos, and wings. When I tell you I know a lot of bee facts from being their server, I mean it- put me on Jeopardy for this category! Larry* brings in fresh honey from his bees (who I learned aren’t individually named because there 25,000 of them, lol) and packages it in the cutest mason jars. Brad* brings his bee jokes and a hat for me (shout out the Queen City Bees, give them a look) to wear, which I ultimately wear the rest of the night. Their smiles and bee facts always leave me wanting to sit and chat with them about their special hobby and why it brings them so much joy.
I could genuinely go on until my fingers are numb from typing, so I’m hoping you’re seeing a trend here.
These people- strangers– have their own trials, tribulations, struggles. etc, and are willing to share them with me- just a server. They are willing to pour into and encourage me even though they don’t know me, are willing to give me advice when they notice a slight change in my attitude, are willing to get to know and love on me even though I really don’t deserve it.
I really felt useless and worthless saying I was a server with a college degree because I felt that I should have a better, more professional job. I didn’t recognize that this holding period that I was in of claiming the title of “just a server” was designed to teach me so much more than I ever expected possible.
A mentor of mine recently told me, “Be careful with calling yourself just a server, just a student, just anything because you really have no idea who you are impacting when you’re just being whatever it is that you are in that moment; God shows Himself through us, just humans who are sinners, all the time.”
And that really hit home.
*Names have been changed to maintain privacy
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