The night that all of us caterering workers dread, had finally arrived. I was scheduled to work a 12 hour shift, beginning at 4 p.m., and ending at 4 a.m. During this time “no one would be allowed to eat.” I know the drill, and I had mentally prepared myself for the onslaught of discomfort and fatigue. The countdown had begun. Not the countdown to midnight, but rather, the countdown I always do when faced with stressful situations. In these instances, I imagine myself beyond the situation, and channel my inner-cheer leader. “Okay,Kim, today sucks, but imagine yourself in tomorrow.” It sounds corny, but it’s my go-to coping mechanism.
My mind was willing but my body wasn’t able.
It’s so embarrassing, but I had a melt-down at about 10:30. My back was spasming to the point that it made me cry…like a baby. I don’t cry at work! I cry a lot, but never at work.
Kind act #3.
My manager had just paid me a compliment about my work ethic, but didn’t realize that the shooting pain had sent me into a corner to cry. As I emerged from my hiding place, I tried to respond with a “thank you” but my lips began to quiver, and my voice began to shake. As I ran to the bathroom to hide my emotions, all I could manage was “give me a minute.” She followed me in, and asked me if I was in pain. I told her that I was, but I’d be okay after a few Advil. She gave me the option to clock-out, but I struggled w/ the decision. It just didn’t feel right to leave early, knowing that my co-workers still had such a long night ahead of them. She assured me that my leaving wouldn’t screw anyone over, so I left, with my head hung low. I feel so guilty, but I’m truly grateful for the compassion that my manager extended to me.
Kind act # 2.
1,100 hundred people paid at least $135 to attend the NYE Gala. They came sparkly,they came thirsty, and they came hungry! Before my melt-down, I was in charge of replenishing two charcuterie (meat and cheese) stations. The guests were eating so fast that I could barely keep up, AND they kept setting their dirty dishes on the food displays. Gross!
On one of my many replenishing trips, a sequined girl offered me some kindness. She simply said, “I hope your night isn’t too awful.” Then she touched my back, and rubbed it for half a second. I was shocked by her humanity,and all I could stammer was “that’s so sweet.” She’ll never know the impact of her simple kindness, but my heart is swelled by the sentiment.
Kind act # 1.
My partner anticipated me getting home from work at 4:30 a.m., and he had a surprise set-up. He’s a chef, and NYE is his busiest night as well, so the fact that he put so much thought into my happiness, speaks volumes about his character. He’d planned to surprise me with a bottle of champagne, locally made chocolate, and strawberries. I might have beat him home that night, but his act of kindness came at precisely the right moment.
Paying it forward?
I was less than half a day into the new year when I had the opportunity to “pay it forward”, but I screwed up (already).
Southerners are superstitious about eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for ‘Good Luck’. I’ve never not eaten black-eyed peas on NYD, but when I got to the store, they were completely sold out of the cans. I managed to snag one of the last frozen bags,and then returned to the canned good aisle. I was busy picking out corn, when I noticed a father/daughter team searching for the sold out cans of black-eyed peas. I butted in, and suggested they try the frozen aisle. On my way out the door, the father approached me, and thanked me for the tip, but said they’d had no luck. I thought about offering them my peas, but I didn’t, and now I’m kicking myself.
It’s not like I believe the peas are magical beans. It’s just tradition, but I wish I’d acted on my inclination towards kindness, and gifted this family with my peas.
Moral of the story? If you feel a surge of kindness coursing through your veins, act on it. Your one small act might cause a domino effect of kindness, and the world could really use some of that right now.
Here’s to hoping I remember this post the next time I want to flip someone the bird for cutting me off in traffic.
Happy 2016, ya’ll!