A Novice Waitress

She looked like a novice waitress as she approached the table, nervously, unsure of how to engage us.  Maybe we were the first table she had ever served. Given her subsequent service, I hope so.

But her awkwardness, unlocked a few memories of my own early days waiting tables.

Accepting my first job, I thought how hard could waiting a few tables be. I found out.

A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle. ~Benjamin Franklin

So, too, the female of the species.

Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple. ~Barry Switzer

Waiting tables meant learning a new way of note taking. My new job meant waiting – and remaining respectful– while fussy customers slowly pursued menus. It meant keeping cool when temperamental cooks dawdled getting out backed-up orders. What’s more, I needed basic math skills I hadn’t quite mastered.

A few of my first customers were flat out demanding and rude; one table skipped out on a large tab. But, I remember most people were unfailingly patient and forgiving of my ineptness, and left bigger tips than I deserved.

Now, I looked at the nervous novice with fresh eyes. She made a draw on my memory banks just  as a crabby critical spirit swooped in harping and carping.

I remembered me.

I remembered how unaware, slow, and confused I was the first days I waited tables. Also, I recalled the frustration I felt because doing my job well depended on others doing theirs well.  And some did not care to do their best.

Back to the present from memory lane, I saw encouragement was the order, not nit-picking.

Yes, our young waitress continually messed up our order. The food was disappointing, and expensive; the air-conditioning was overloaded.

Whew! I am glad those memory banks offered a dividend reminding me of how long it took me to learn a simple trade the summer I graduated from high school and headed to the ocean.

Then, a new thought shook me up: some day soon, our granddaughters and grandsons may have their own turn at serving demanding customers on their first night waiting tables.

Give the kid a break, OK?

Griping about such minor hassles can become too familiar a pastime for seasoned citizens. It’s so easy to put others on the scale and find them wanting. In God’s economy, I am wanting too, no matter how long I live! So,  being a critic isn’t a good use of time or energy at my age.

To grow old graciously is to choose to sit upon the seat of love instead of the seat of judgment. (A Good Old Age by Derek Prime, page 104)

The seat of love is not a perch for critics; it’s bench for encouragers who have been given much. They can share encouragement, strength, and hope, especially for a novice.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)


We can practice, or imitate kindness.

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