I have stated before that I sometimes work catering gigs to supplement my income. I typically enjoy the work as it allows me to be the “people person” that I am while making some extra cash. 9 times out of 10, the function is a Wedding and guests are extra polite as they enjoy their free booze and food. Who wouldn’t be happy with a belly full of complimentary Filet Mignon and adult beverage of their choice?
Sometimes I feel a little self conscious in my silly ‘penguin’ uniform of an oversized white button down, black vest and tie. This hyper-self-awareness usually subsides with the first genuine thank you received by an event guest. Their conveyance of respect allows me to quiet the voice inside me which wishes to explain that I’m not ‘just a waiter’ with stains on her uniform but an aspiring writer/business woman. A simple display of manners almost always quells the urge to explain myself.
The times that I’m treated like ‘the help’ are actually few and far between but when they occur, I find myself inwardly repeating the mantra from “The Help”. I say to myself “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”. I also curse a little bit at the rude offender…but only in my mind.
Tonight I was treated like the help by one person. One bad apple spoiled the bunch because of her obvious disdain towards my ‘position’. Dinner service had lasted an hour and then it was time to clear all entree plates as instructed by my Manager. It was just about time for the beaming Bride and Groom to cut the cake and it is a big no no to have stacks of plates on tables as we pass out the dessert course. There was a ‘lady’ sitting in my section who had four measly strips of Green Beans residing on her plate which was pushed to the side. I made contact with the plate and just as I’d hoisted it about three inches from the table, she jerked it back down with both hands, slamming it on to the table and curtly barked ‘I’m a slow eater’. Politeness was easily within her grasp at this point. She could have just said “I’d like to keep my plate” but she didn’t The bread basket was also in my hands at this time and upon her seeing this; she turned to the man seated next to her and said “she took my bread too”. She could have just said “please leave the bread”. She wanted to embarrass me, to lower me and remind me of my ‘rank’. I set the bread basket in front of her and gently stated that the staff had been instructed to clear all dinner ware in preparation of the cake cutting. I wanted to make her feel bad, selfish and to remind her that the day was not about her. Her plate sat stacked on top of the coveted bread basket for the duration of the evening. I left it there to shame her. God forbid, she didn’t finish off those last four Green Bean strips!
My Mother had a saying. When I was down or angry, she’d always say “It takes a lot more energy to make yourself miserable than it does to be happy”. With this in mind, I always strive to look for the good in people. Maybe that lady was just having a bad day. On the other hand, maybe I as her lowly server had just been diagnosed with a disease or defaulted on my mortgage due to a lay off. Luckily this isn’t the case but I think it’s always important to consider such things when deciding how you will treat another human being.
We all have our own stories and a uniform is not what defines our character.
Think before you dismiss someone based on first impressions. I will strive to do this as well.
Just be nice!