Friday, July 31, 2009

chat with youngest daughter

Our youngest daughter is going through a phase right now.  She needs a lot of attention and energy and is very stressed out by Alex and I being away from her.  She cries when I leave for work and she calls me every night before she goes to sleep and demands that I come home.  Fortunately, I've been parenting long enough to get that I just need to hang tight, give her lots of hugs and love, and we'll move to a different stage.   

Today, as part of all this anxiety, our daughter told me that she was coming to work with me tonight.  Well, she is pretty young, and many of her sentences start with the words, "I want..." and so I explained that, in the restaurant, everything is about the customer.  I wanted her to hear that when we are in the restaurant, we have to only think about the customer (and taking a moment to plant seeds in her 5-year old brain about empathy!) which means that it would be a very boring and tedious place for her to spend time.  She was actually pretty quick to catch on that this sounded dismal and moved on to a new topic (she also didn't cry when I left for work tonight - secretly feeling sorry for me?!)  However, the exchange left me thinking about the dynamics of the restaurant.

When you are working at the restaurant, it is like you disappear.  There is absolutely no "I want."  From the moment you walk in the door, you are constantly scanning to try and figure out how to make life better for customers: are the tables in the right spot so that the (minimal) leg room is maximized? are the lights at the right brightness for the time of day? is the music at the right volume? is it the right kind of music? is the air conditioning too cold or not cold enough? do they have drinks? what is the drink special tonight? can we call their mains or are they wanting to pause after their appys?  The questions are endless and they flip through your head all night long.  You forget that your feet are screaming.  Sometimes you remember to re-hydrate and have something to drink. Occasionally, you remember that you need to pee.  

But, most of the time, you disappear.  And, you know, it's okay.  It's kind of a neat experience.  Not meant for the pre-school crowd but it is definitely a cool way to look at the world for a few hours and definitely makes me think about life differently.  

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