My older daughter put in her last day of summer waitressing last night. She will be sad to say goodbye to her co-workers, even though she is totally pumped about starting her sophomore year of college. I am reflecting, though, on all I have learned from her job. Yes, that’s right: what I learned.
*Wait staff really do live off their tips. I knew tips were important, but I didn’t realize how appallingly little their base pay can be. I have always believed I tipped fairly, but now I try to remember to tip generously. (She tells me her Daddy tips better than I do, but really, he IS her Daddy. He’d tip her for a good hug in the afternoon.)
*Enthusiasm and a good attitude can transform almost any situation or work environment. My daughter is an amazing well of determined goodwill. (It showed in the tips, too!) She was the only white girl (or a good-natured “guerrita” to her coworkers) in an otherwise all Hispanic Mexican food restaurant, but determined to use the minimal English environment to improve her Spanish. (She’s a Spanish major). Their expectation was that she would fail, as they had a pretty stereotypical perspective of non-Hispanics. Like any minority in a majority environment, she had to soar above expectations to break them, and she did so joyfully. She is my hero!
*Passionately pursue your goals, but rest in the knowledge that God is the one who makes them happen. Her plan was to earn enough to pay for her whole year’s housing at college. Her laptop died, though, and she replaced it herself from her earnings. She also bought a futon, and has paid for her whole first semester’s housing. With her invitation to return to the restaurant for winter break, she will probably pay housing for the school year. She also wanted to pick up a class during the summer, so this hard-working dynamo completed 3 credits of algebra locally while working 60-80 hour + weeks. She worked, but she trusted God to provide the tips and the energy and the understanding in her class. She saw for herself that when she tried to manipulate things in her favor, it soured. When she trusted in God’s provision, her cup overflowed!
*Don’t just love people in spite of their cultural differences, but because of them. And she learned lots of cultural differences between her white-bread American upbringing and the multi-cultural Latin views of her co-workers. She just embraced them, good and bad.
*The American public drinks a LOT of liquor. I did NOT grow up in a teetotaling environment, although my husband did. I have an occasional glass of wine. I knew that much of my countrymen drink more freely. Listening to how much alcohol my daughter serves each night was eye-opening. Seeing my 19-year-old having to make troubling decisions on whether or not to cut off patrons, or call for rides for patrons bothered me. It’s hard to see her agonize over whether she was wrong to let someone leave under their own power. Frankly, it’s amazing to know single individuals are finishing off a jumbo margarita or ordering multiple Long Island teas. And I just didn’t realize it was so widespread.
*My little girl has MONSTER work-skills! She is amazing! She works hard, non-stop, and challenges herself to go further each day. She earned burn-callouses, muscles that can balance 3 plates along a tiny arm, whole new levels of Spanish fluency, mad bartending skills, and the respect of every one of her initially skeptical co-workers. I am drop-dead proud of her and thankful to God for her! I pray she has an amazing sophomore year in college!