I spent one decade working at an ice cream stand. Wait, I should re word that. I spent one decade laughing at an ice cream stand. From being dared to stand on a picnic table and sing the national anthem on 4th of July while crowds of families stared at you. To making slip and slides down the hills beside the shop. Makes me very happy that my older sister Anastasia is such a good solid human. She got hired there when she was 14 years old. Then the boss lady hired me next because she must have assumed I was just like my sister. Haha.
She even said to my sister when I came up to interview, “Wow, your sister is sooo quiet.” We laughed about that quote for many years later. As Ang and I would sing Ricky Martin into the mop and dance in the corners while other people tried to keep straight faces. The boss quickly realized I was nothing like my efficient sister. But she loved me any ways. I mean she even hired our third sister a couple years later.
It was a great first job.
All my late teens and early 20s would be full of waiting table or tending bar at night. Getting a front seat view to how crappy people can be. Let’s take a quick moment to make sure all the entitled people of the world understand that as a waitress I was getting paid $2.73 an hour. If you don’t tip, I cry when the oil truck pulls in my driveway. Do we all understand now how the food service industry works? I’ll hold up my end of the bargain and smile while you speak rudely to me. But you have to leave a tip with dinner. All agree? Okay good.
Yes, of course there was millions of nice people that I came in contact with throughout those years. Generous couples who would laugh with me as I tried to open champagne bottles. But it would always be the rude people who could spoil your night. Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to make fun of them in the wait station and move on.
Eventually I had to put on my big girl pants and venture into a professional world in which I was interested in. I had assumed that part of being an adult meant that work was work. You are friendly to every one but you maintain it as a friendship at your place of work. Makes sense right? We are all adults. We know that being professional at your job is important. So we do it. Keep my personal life at home where it belongs.
So that was all well and good. Tons of nice people at my work. Love seeing their friendly faces. Go about my business. Get my job done. Go home to my hunky boyfriend and my dog.
But then a funny thing happened. I was no longer able to not love these people. That’s the funny thing about the human service field. You are surrounded by people who are compassionate. Typically communicate and listen well. All spend their days trying to help people. I watch them stand up for what is right. I watched one of them save some body’s life. Right in front of my eyes. I have sat next to them while we all cried silently in an auditorium full of memories at a memorial service.
They inspire me. They teach me. They look out for me.
The very best part is we are all so insanely different. You spend your childhood typically socializing with peers your age. Which is fine. But you learn much more from people who are not like you.
Last year at work I was partnered with a woman who was 30 years older than me. It was the best work experience I have ever had. She is exactly who I want to be in my years to come. Never rude but never let’s people push her around. A calm presence, who makes every one else calm down just from her being around. Doesn’t raise her voice unless absolutely necessary. She has lived a life full of fun hobbies. She’s a wonderful cook. She does yoga. She makes new friends. She is very brave. I am so lucky to have been able to spend time with her. We laughed A LOT.
She gave me this book to read. I probably read it 25 times in a week. (It’s short poems.)
Gosh, I love someone who can recommend a good book.
They have become my people. My sounding board. My support system. Most importantly my friends.
I watched three of them turn a back yard into a pirate beach for our bride to be. Including a truck load of sand. A disco ball. 5,000 candles and lanterns (Smokey the bear was standing in the woods with his arms crossed shaking his head at them.) All because they wanted their friend to be happy. To see her face when she showed up.
So hey thanks guys.
I am thankful.