For the past four days (including today), I've eaten at least one Cliff Bar for breakfast, and a pizza slice for lunch. I usually take a box of pizza home for dinner, where I eat it happily while I do my thing(s) on my laptop. Today, as I was walking home with two slices of cheese and one "slice of the day" aka a FRESH tomato, FRESH basil, and FRESH mozzarella pizza slice, I passed by a much older, African-American man whom one would assume to be homeless. Let's call him "Cole." I've been trained from a young age to ignore homeless people for reasons which I'm sure you can come up with yourself:
- Homeless people aren't really homeless.
- Homeless people could get a job and a home if they just tried.
- Homeless people just use your money to buy alcohol. Brown bag, anyone?
- ...Homeless people aren't really homeless.
I don't think of these statements as I'm passing by a homeless person; I just pass by without thinking. Yep, I'm guilty of this. It's just easier. So today, I passed by. And as I continued walking past Cole, the sound...of the jingling...of the coins...in the cup...that Cole was holding...randomly caught my attention. I suddenly felt stupid. Not selfish, stupid. Of course!
I walked back to Cole, got down on my knees, pointed to the box as I put it on the ground next to him, and said:
"I hope you like this. It's for you."
He kept nodding his head, cheery, saying over and over: "Thank You, Thank You. Thank You, Thank You." Now remember that there were THREE slices in there, and they are huge...since I hadn't eaten the "slice of the day" yet, I was curious. Before I got up, I tore a little piece of the pizza out for myself:
"Sorry...I just want to taste what you're about to eat!"
He laughed and just kept nodding, smiling, and thanking me. I nodded my head, smiled back, stood up, and walked to Marsha's apartment, partial-pizza in hand. I took a bite. This is the best pizza I've tasted all week. Why the heck did i give this away-
Haha just kidding. I felt good. The pizza I was eating tasted so much better, knowing that Cole was eating it too. Despite my upbringing, I've always wanted to do what I did this afternoon. So many restaurants throw so much food out at the end of the day, and it's sad to think about. Here I am, fortunate enough to not only get a stimulating job in a stimulating city for a week, but to also get free food on top of that. Every day, as much as I want. I had to give.
I had to give.
Sharing with Cole made me think about why I like my job so much this week. It seems that the bulk of my day is spent at the register, taking in-person orders. That puts me at the front of the store, and it enables me to a prominent face of Upper Crust. I naturally take it upon myself to start small conversations with the customers about their days, what they want to order, and how their order tastes. In between taking orders, I sweep, and clear and wipe tables.
It's fun for me to see the surprise/joy in customers' faces whenever I talk to them, or when I rush to clean a table before a customer sits down (or after, haha). They see that I truly care about how they are doing, that I take joy in making the little time they are in the restaurant comfortable. And then there are those customers who basically want you to wash their feet, but that's just amusing to me. I'm finding that I truly love serving by giving people attention, genuine conversation, and a good, clean space to eat tasty food. I get to be responsible for giving people a positive experience with something that is necessary to our living, and that is huge.
There's also the fact that I know how it feels to be a customer, and it seriously makes me hyperactive when I encounter an employee who works hard and really cares if I'm happy. It also makes me angry when I encounter an employee who is rude and selfish. One of my BIGGEST pet peeves. And then there's the part about never having met the customers. I think I have an addiction to strangers. There's something intriguing about the chance to positively influence someone whose story you don't know entirely. You don't know how much your smile has affected them, but you smile anyway. It takes some sort of courage...some sort of humility. You just do good to do good, and you'll never know how far it'll go. That person could be inspired to, at the very least, smile at another stranger, and so on and so on! Good chains - world peace...world LOVE is possible. Believe this.
Now remember that serving doesn't make you a servant. Never let ANYONE treat you as if you are trash, as if you are below them. The Huxtables would probably agree (6:25 mark and on):
Tomorrow is Friday. :(
(The title of this post is yet another reference to a website I adore greatly.)