Bussing Tables and Learning Lessons

At the end of my freshman year of high school, I realized I needed to find a summer job because I was sick and tired of having to ask my parents for money. I wanted the freedom to be able to go to the mall or movies with friends without having to beg for $10 from my parents.  Towards the end of that school year, I was actually excited to start working. I imagined having a job at a summer camp where we played games with adorable children or working at store in the mall where I could get discounts on my favorite brands. My reality was disappointing, to say the least. The only job I managed to find at fifteen years old was bussing tables at a local diner.

At first, and maybe still, the idea of cleaning up tables disgusted me. The thought of getting up at dawn to go clean up after people made me regret ever asking for a job. Nonetheless, at 7 AM, the first week of summer break, I was unhappily waiting to start my first shift. I’ll never forget how exhausting that first day was for me. From the moment I got there, I was running around. From delivering food to racing to get a table bussed for the dozens of waiting customers, I was on top of it. That day I came home, took a shower and fell asleep until the next morning at dawn. I’ll never forget the exhaustion I felt, but I’ll also never forget sitting down for lunch with my coworkers for the first time. People my age or ten or twenty years older all sat together and talked and sometimes complained about their days. All of a sudden I was a part of that, and it felt good to be so included.

I’ve now been working at my diner for almost two years, and I’m so grateful I pushed past my hesitance. While now I’ve been promoted to a waitress and no longer have to clear tables, I’ve learned to be happy about getting up ridiculously early, because I know there’s going to be a few good moments every day there.

I’ve had my fair share of mean customers and I’ve mixed up more than a few orders that have gotten me in trouble, but waitressing has made me a better person overall. From starting there as a scared shy freshman, I’ve been able to grow into a person that can go up and say hello to anyone, at work or anywhere else. I’m also not as sensitive as I used to be, getting a rude customer might make me feel bad for a moment, but after I can laugh it off with a coworker. My friends might never understand why I willingly get up early on a weekend, especially when I go straight from work to practice or Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) on Sunday evenings,  but nonetheless, I understand how much a little weekend job has done for me.

In these difficult times, when we all have to give up so much, I have realized how much everything I used to have means to me. I miss my school, my friends, and my normal life, but a couple of months ago, I don’t think I would’ve thought I’d miss waitressing as much as I do. I truly miss getting up and getting to talk to my coworkers and customers. I miss the rewarding feeling of working hard. My job has given me so much, and I can’t wait to go back and continue to grow from my experience.