Everyone has experienced the wrenching feeling of not having enough money to go through the Taco Bell drive-thru on your way home from school. It’s a heart-breaking experience that leaves one scarred for days. Maybe you get $10 a week from your mom when asking for some gas money, which always leaves me feeling guilty for mooching off of my parents, because they pay for my living expenses, too, and now you have no money for anything else. This was the exact reason I decided it was high time for me to get a job. Now that I’m living in a world where I pay for my own stuff, I feel more independent and I don’t have to worry about asking for permission before I buy something.
I was very unsure recently about getting another job. I had only had one job prior to my new one: “827 Ray’s” or “Ray’s”, as my friend Olivia and I called it. I worked there for a few months, courtesy of Olivia recommending me to the owner, before I quit because of never getting scheduled correctly. Now, it being the beginning of my junior year, my mother told me I needed a job because I was spending too much of her money on gas. I agreed, discouraged, because in my eyes, having a job was a disastrous idea, an idea that could cause me to grow away from my friends and leave me little time do homework on the weekends. I ended up applying to Flores, where my friend Sam works.
I started my first day on a Friday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the busiest night of the week.
My first impression was the place needed some order. It was hard to stay on track at this place, people running to and fro all over the place. Let me be candid and say servers are always frazzled. Always agile and nimble, servers are hardcore.
The next few times I worked, I hated every moment I stood by that host stand, praying for the time to fly by fast as possible. I was unhappy with the job. This was until one day, as I was closing up for the night and I noticed a guy who was watching a ‘tortilla lady,’ a woman who stands behind a 3 foot wall of glass, making tortillas by the dozen, for hours on end. He poked at the glass and said to the woman, “How does it feel to stand behind that glass while everyone watches you make tortillas all day?” She shot him a pained look, like, “How do you think?” My guess at the time was, ‘It must be awful.”
I thought about this moment before I went to sleep that night. I thought about how the tortilla lady must have inconsiderate people asking her contemptuous questions all day. But why does she do it? Because she needs the money. She’s standing all day because that’s her job. So why was I complaining about my job? I had a great job compared to her, making money for helping people to a table.
My personal decision because of this encounter was that I was spoiled, and I needed to prove to myself that being responsible and making money for it was well worth having a job. As soon as I realized this, I started to notice things that were very positive things about my job.
There are so many different types of people that come together in a single workplace. To begin with, there are the servers. There’s a tall dude named Andre who goes up to the host stand every 30 minutes or so to say things like, “Guys, you’re doing wonderful!” or “You keep it up, team. We’re gonna make it through this.” Sometimes, he just walks over to me and screams my name. It weirds me out in a way I can’t describe, in a good way. Once, he asked me if I’d ever read Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.
“Yeah, I’ve read it,” I said, slightly confused. “Oh yeah? But have you ever really read it?” I shifted, thinking hard to myself. “I guess not…?” He stood tall and smiled.
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
He gave a big, toothy grin and rushed off before letting me reply. I smirked to myself, now knowing what he meant.
After my shift, I drove home, still smiling to myself about how enduring the quote was. It had made my day to hear someone recite a child’s poem, yet it was only the first time hearing it with it’s deeper and encouraging meaning having seeped in.
Now, I really listen to my peers at work because I wonder if they’ll say anything insightful. When you have your ears and heart open to people, you will start to see that you can learn something from everyone, no matter what they have to do with you. And by the way, I made friends with the ‘tortilla lady’. Her name is Elaina.