Like so many of my millennial peers, I grew up being told I could do anything. Well, there was one jerk who said I couldn’t be president of the United States because a woman would never be president. Lolz.
I went to college and floundered around. I learned about psychology, philosophy, music, and writing. I dropped more than half of my classes. The ones I finished I either got an A or an F. I pretty much had no idea what I was doing, but enjoyed myself for the most part. By the time I decided that I was done spending tons of money to skip classes, I had racked up $12,000 in student loans and had no degree or professional direction.
My first serving job was at Chevy’s Fresh Mex. I walked in with zero experience, filled out the application, showed the manager I was capable of balancing a tray, and was hired on the spot. My first few weeks were a train wreak. I completely ruined two sweet ladies’ lunch because I could not stop asking them if they were “still doing okay.” I lost balance of my tray while delivering drinks. The tray tipped spilling the entire contents of 2 full glasses of Mountian Dew on a small baby. I forgot to put in a food order for a family of 5 for over an hour. Thankfully I got better, but even as a terrible server I was making really good money.
I learned that serving tables isn’t just about bringing food from the kitchen to the dining room. It can be, but if you are doing it right it can be something so much more fulfilling. Serving tables became my way of learning how to connect with different people. I decided to actually talk with the people I was serving whenever I could. It was awkward at first, but it got easier. By the time I got pregnant, I had so many lovely regulars who knew a lot about my life, and I knew a lot about theirs. It was fun to share updates about my growing baby, and hear stories about their family.
During the last month of my pregnancy people started asking when I was going on my maternity leave. I would smile and say that I would drive myself crazy if I just sat at home all day. Actually, I could only afford to take one month off of work and I wanted to spend that month with my baby. Servers don’t get sick days, paid vacation, health insurance, and definitely not paid maternity leave. I had worked hard for my shifts and regular customers, and I knew that if I was away too long I would loose them.
I feel like being a server is a lot like being a pirate. The money is great, and the lifestyle is wild! I am not going to say that I will never work in the restaurant industry again. I find that when people use definitive words they end up looking stupid at some point. I’m talking to you, “A woman will never be president” guy. I am very thankful for the personal growth I have attained through service. I am thankful that I have always been able to support myself and my family with the generous tips I’ve received. I’m also thankful that I have found my reason to go back to college. I know that my service experience is going to help me be an amazing nurse.