The other day, I showed up to my voice lesson exhausted, running there in between shifts at the restaurant. It was supposed to be my day off because of slightly important things, like, you know, attending class so I can earn a degree already; however, the restaurant decided I had slightly more important things to do, like, you know, serve to Coke to crabby businessmen. So much for the arts!
My voice teacher is an operatic baritone who has sung all over the world and has made many appearances on NPR-- and yet he is so humble and is very fatherly to me. We were talking about restaurant work and how crummy the pay is. I bet you didn't know that restaurants just assume that waiters will make enough tips per hour to make minimum wage, so they get away with paying the waitstaff next to nothing. My restaurant pays me a whopping $2.15 an hour to be there! It had been a grueling weekend, with me working doubles for several days and then finishing that off with a ten-hour workday. I felt more dead than alive. My teacher, who has been through all that (starving musician and all :-P), sympathized with me, didn't push me too hard, and wished me a good evening at the restaurant when I left to go back to work.
At work that night, I went to the kitchen to get something, and dragged myself back out... to see my voice teacher sitting in my section! (he told me later that he asked the hostess, "Could you seat me in Maria's section?" and she replied, "Which Maria?" Tee hee, work is so hilarious sometimes!) He ordered a good-sized meal, chatted with me whenever I passed by, and left me a $10 tip for a $12 meal! I was very touched, to say the least. I suddenly had more energy for the rest of the night.
It was a little thing, stopping in for dinner and leaving a few extra bucks, but it meant a lot to me.
And then, last night, I waited on some truly horrible people.
It was a combination of me still being new to the job and them just looking for someone to be ticked off at, I think. They said hurtful things to my face and then left angry, mean writings on the receipt (and, of course, no tip). And then there was another table that I waited on hand and foot (and believe me, they had me running back and forth from the kitchen nonstop). They ran up quite a tab and then... left no tip. Nothing anywhere. It's quite amazing what tips will do to a server's ego. Not to mention the pocketbook! I was exhausting myself and not even making minimum wage. So there I was, so tired, and suffering thoughts of failure, shame, and financial worry.
I went to the restroom and had a meltdown for a few minutes. I wanted to just leave that crummy restaurant with all its crummy hours and crummy customers.
And then I thought of my teacher from a few nights before.
And I received the strength and the will to go on. I could forgive those not-so-nice people and give control over to God. Not everybody that goes to restaurants is horrible (just most of them :-P), and I am a good waitress.
Moral of the story? Be kind to people! You never know when your actions will help your friends long after the fact, even if it's as simple as cheering them up on a Monday night in a restaurant. If you made it this far in my ramblings, good for you!