So this is the second post of the day, but the first one you are actually seeing. The first post that I started writing was about an experience that I had last night at work. Blah! It was a bad experience and I kind of wanted to put a positive spin on it but fate would have it that I wouldn't get to finish that post because my gf started to hook up my wireless Internet. In the time that it took to do that, I had the opportunity to sleep off my pissy mood. When I woke up I felt like there was something a little more pressing to write about. This is also about work, but its not about me....not totally anyway.
Last week, I went to this really cool workshop at the Georgia Dome. The workshop was all day and there were a lot of celebrities there, each of them was supposed to have some magic success formula. Mind you the workshop was from 8a to 4p on a Monday...sooo you can imagine who the audience was comprised of. While there were a few people there on business the majority of the audience were regular, unemployed Americans...wishing and hoping that they would hear something powerful enough to change their lives. I can remember getting a little irritated because every few speakers, they would make an "offer" for us to attend this class or that seminar. The seminars cost money. Money that we had to pay on the spot. Money that many of attendees did not have. It was kind of sad...and I left early. I felt like the speakers were taking advantage of the attendees. Preying on their vulnerability and desperation. It was very uncomfortable. So I left, but before I left I did gain one valuable piece of information. Pay it forward!
All of the speakers had different paths to becoming wealthy, but one thing that they all had in common was believing that it was important to help people as you help yourself. They all said that the way to make your own dreams come true was to help someone else make their dreams come true. Now I had heard this before, but this time it really rang true with me. It feels great when you can do something for someone else, when you can give to someone a smile or a chance. Bill Cosby, the last speaker of the day, said that sometimes its just about how you treat people. He said it was important that you treat everyone the same no matter what. He said that he knows people treat him special because he is Bill Cosby, but how they treat his driver or assistant tells him a lot about who they are as people. And this is where my job comes in. I work as a waitress in a club/lounge type place. I have only been there a few weeks so its hard to gauge how I feel about working there. I just go, get my money and leave. But the one thing that I do have feelings about is how "we" treat the support staff (the bussers, dishwashers, cooks and so on.). We treat them like they are insignificant.
I am sure everyone reading this blog can remember going out to dinner, to a club, or even the movies. You are talking with your friends or family and the Latino busser or cleaner comes to the table clears its, sweeps the floor, picks up the trash and as soon as they arrive, they disappear into the background. They are like little clean up fairies....here... then gone in an instant. Most people dint even notice them. We don't even look up from our conversation, long enough to see their eyes or smile at them. Its almost as if they don't warrant that...we are barely sure that we saw them. Anyway, as a waitress, this experience really resonated with me, I decided to make an effort to treat the support staff at my job with respect and dignity. To smile at them when I came in to work. To learn their names! To ask them how their day was. To thank them for cleaning my tables, sweeping my floors, keeping the bathroom clean, emptying the trash....doing all the dirty work no one wants to do. I even tip a little extra.
I feel like this, in the 3 years that I have been waiting tables part time, I know how it feels to be judged. When guests walk into that restaurant and see me in my all black...they make assumptions. Assumptions about my education level, about my social class, about who I am in general. People are beyond surprised when they learn that I have finished graduate school and worked as an executive in my last job. I work as a waitress because its hard to get paid what I am worth in this economy, beyond that I like cash and freedom. Being a waitress allows me to make a little money and still have time to write. Now don't get me wrong, there are definitely times that I feel like crap because I am a waitress. Or because I don't have money to do the things I want to do right now. There are times that I feel invisible..like no one sees or cares what I am trying to do. I know that the people I serve....don't see me. The author in me. The creator in me. They see another young black face...and they throw me in bag with all the other "do-nothing" "low-lives" of the world. I know that's not who I am...but they don't. That's why its so important that I don't ever make the mistake of treating anyone else like that. Nowadays, Latino Americans comprise the majority of our service industry. Many of them don't speak English and some may even be here illegally. But they work hard, and they make our jobs easier everyday. I am grateful to have had experiences that have shown me how painful it is to be ignored, type cast, and judged. These are real people...with real lives...real hopes, dreams, and families.
There will be times when all of us will have to take the background to someone else. Times when we will get all the worry and none of the glory. But those times don't make us any less valuable. The humility, pride, and honor that I have learned by watching the service staff at my job has been transformational. And I just want to express my gratitude.
Everyone needs someone. No matter how rich and famous. If we all stopped buying computers and using Facebook...there would be two less billionaires in the world! So in the spirit of connectivity and compassion, lets remember there are no big "I's" or little "yous"...because in the "eye" of someone else...the little one could be...YOU!
No one deserves to feel invisible.