I never thought that being a waitress would change the way I think about the world. I learned more about people in a year than I thought I knew in my entire life. When I think about life changing experiences, what usually comes to mind is a 3 month vacation to Thailand to find myself, working for Peace Corps for a year or making a drastic change to the way I live.
Waitressing seems like it is just putting orders into a computer and bringing the food out to the right table but there is a little more involved. You build connections with regulars at your restaurant, you learn how to work in a fast paced high stress environment, how to dodge kids while holding a tray of food and how to stay on your feet for 8 hours at a time without crying.
As a lover of people watching, waitressing enabled me to people watch up close and personal. I got to see some nervous first dates, parents hoping and praying their kid will eat but one french fry, grandpa falling asleep before drinking his decaf coffee that he swears will wake him up and everything in between. Saturday mornings are really just a trip to the zoo with all the cages open.
Not only did waitressing open my eye up to how different people can react to a situation but it made me realize how I react to certain things. It is so easy for me to lose my temper and start yelling. I used to do this in almost every situation that presented itself. I had burned quite a few bridges with this method in the past and I never knew how to stop. Waitressing forced me to come to terms with my anger.
I took it upon myself to understand where the anger was coming from and how to channel it so that I would still be able to keep my job. It was a very difficult in the beginning to find a way to channel this rage, especially during peak hours. I could feel myself muttering under my breath and avoiding eye contact with certain people.
Waitressing helped me to understand people as a whole. There are some people who are genuinely rude and maybe no one ever taught them manners. But a majority of the people who happened to be rude were going through something monumental in their life that was tearing them apart.
While cleaning nearby tables I have unfortunately overheard conversations of horrific events that are keeping some customers awake at night. No wonder he was smiling or laughing at the joke I cracked, the poor man’s wife has been in the hospital for the last 3 months!
I learned to just let things go and not keep thinking about all the people who gave me attitude. I learned to take that energy and use it for good. Instead of focusing on how someone was rude I would spend less time on a table that clearly did not want me there and spent that time with customers who genuinely wanted to speak with me.
Waitressing has been the hardest yet most fulfilling thing I have ever done in my life. In one year I learned how to prioritize, speak to different people, control my temper and stand on my feet for 8 hours a day. I got learn not only about others around me but also about myself and how I can make small changes to go in the right direction and better myself. It was an experience I wouldn’t change for the world.
Featured image via Waitress Movie