I think people who claim everyone should work in the service industry at some point in their lives are like those little kids who find joy in burning ants with a magnifying glass. It’s a fraternity you have to be initiated in and it does not discriminate whose soul it destroys. Waiting tables, retail, customer service… all prepare you in some way for dealing with people who must leave their homes purely in hopes of ruining someone’s day. However, I agree with this notion. Having worked in this industry, I feel we all learn a bit of humility and how to navigate situations when dealing with horrible human beings.
BUT – The service industry is NOT to help us learn how to handle adults who act like giant babies (although I guess it does have some merit there)… but what it REALLY does, is low key prepare you for parenthood. For the humans WE create, our own flesh and blood that from conception, suck up all of your energy and patience. They chew you up and spit you out, all the while doing something equally adorable so as you giggle, not knowing why, teetering on the edge of ripping your kitchen sink from the wall like in that scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest… you power through and make it to bed time. Like actual bed time where the children sleep and you can enjoy some sort of quiet before you succumb to sleep yourself and it all starts again.
I worked at a restaurant for 2 years. It was a very popular burger place in Houston that ended up being the best job I’ve ever had. Not because I enjoyed slinging burgers around and smelling like grease. Not because I loved seeing the same people come in day after day, order the same meal then proceed to complain about it. Not because I loved wearing non slip shoes that are wildly uncomfortable and somehow ALWAYS drawing the short straw to stay on the late shift. And certainly not because I have had to (on more than one occasion) had to clear a cup with elderly woman’s spit up). But because there’s a camaraderie in it. Our managers were amazing and we got free delicious food before shifts and overall, the customers are fun! We had a lot of regulars and it made shifts go by easier a lot of the time.
I took a lot from that job that I appreciate. I learned to handle horrible bosses, picturing the lemon pepper catfish guy’s face on them and grinning through the obnoxious micromanaging and condescending conversations.
Staying home with my infant was a breeze compared to working in the real world!
That is until meal time. Maybe God put me in the food industry for those 2 years for this exact scenario of sanity-testing foolery.
Torture. It’s pure torture.
And the sick shit about it is, they will go days, WEEKS even that they eat without complaint. They do it within an amount of time that you don’t see the sun shift and they don’t drop forks or food or whatever else they manage to bring to the table… literally and figuratively speaking. But then, they drop a bomb of asshole and I begin to question what I’ve done in my past lives to deserve this. I know I must have had a few of them to be faced with what these children put me through. Or maybe it was my own lack of ambition when it came to finishing any meal when I was younger… who knows?
Today I took them to Sky Zone – which is FUN. They loved it! They loved me! Everyone was happy and skipping along like in those painfully happy kids shows with exaggerated facial expressions and dance moves. I whipped out a frozen pizza to keep this train going, though. I’ll take PBS over IT any day. They danced and sang and praised me and it was glorious!
Then I was jolted and slapped in the face with the first psychological test. Because it’s never just one, small, normal request. It almost always requires extra effort that will not be appreciated. And unfortunately, my little hellions don’t tip. Neither did those people but that’s beside the point.
I knew Diem would want her sliced and Cori prefers hers cut up, so I did as they wished! These are repeat customers! I try to be two steps ahead. Before they even asked, I had napkins and water WITH ICE, I even prepared the pizza on the appropriately colored plates.
By God, I was a master today.
Then the littlest one, who is by far more conniving than the older, decided she wanted hers cut up… only after I sat down with my own meal, of course. I don’t know why I thought I’d actually get to sit down to eat today. So, I obliged. I wasn’t about to be tripped up with her games. I brought it back, cut it up, contemplated flipping her the bird, brought it BACK and watched as she picked up her fork. You know, the one that’s plastic and completely fucking useless, but she HAD to have that one, and proceeded to have a mental breakdown over its inability to collect a piece of pizza.
Nobody trusts my judgement.
The amount of times I’ve had to think “I told you so” in the last week is Guinness Book material for sure.
Nevermind that they’re eating PIZZA and can/should use their hands and after only 3 pieces, her entire shirt is painted with sauce so why she cares about hand cleanliness is beyond me, but here we are. Then the other one flipped out because a gnat landed on the table, then Diem wanted to stand up to eat because she “didn’t need her chair” but I know the dark road that’s going to lead me, so NO, sit down and good LORD do I need more caffeine.
Alas, we made it out on the other side. We’re here, fed, happy, fighting over Mardi Gras beads that we have no less than 100 of, but they want the same one…
BUT …they’re FED. And that’s what I have to focus on today.
They won’t break me… not today!