Funny how life can place mirrors around you every day. When you least expect it too. Also amazing how many lessons you can learn every day, when you least expect it. Lessons on you, the world, how to do life.
I was working catering at a local university this week. By working I mean donning the old white shirt, black pants, sensible shoes outfit. Walking from table to table making sure all guests were satisfied and refilling waters and clearing plates. Very simple, very physically active (which I like) very real. And on this particular day very REVEALING.
Now let me back up a bit. This is not what I do for a living. I am currently a work from home mom (and have been blessed by God, careful choices, sacrifices and an awesome servant husband to do this for 14 years) I have a 4 year degree and a MBA, I own my own Mary Kay business as well. I have been blessed in many different ways and am so thankful. So, how did I find myself asking “may I clear this sir?”, “more water ma’am?” – one word – cheerleading.
Yes, I have a daughter in competitive cheer and our incredible gym has a great booster club set up where we can earn money for the gym through working. It is great and has afforded so so many families, including mine, the opportunity to support their girls in their sport. It is a real blessing to us all as cheerleading is, well expensive. So how does all this tie into lessons learned? Keep reading
The catering event was for new student orientation for freshman at our local university. So we had hundreds of freshmen and their parents to serve for a beautiful brunch. All with their “going to university excitement” and their bags full of bookstore goodies.
Lesson One Pride: It is such a sneaky thing. Anyone who thinks they have a handle on theirs I think is mistaken and, well prideful. As I went about my job that day, which I as a whole enjoy (catering and food service management was my career for decades. Marriott paid me handsomely and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And any of you who know the industry know that “management” means pot washing, waiting on folks, serving, mopping and occasionally giving directions! not glamorous, you either love it or you don’t)- anyway, this time I felt uncomfortable and actually embarrassed as I was working. On this day, as I looked at the crowd who, in my all-about-me human way I thought were looking at this older woman serving tables thinking “wow glad we are going to college/or glad we are sending you to college so you will not have to do this when you get older”, I wished I had a sign on my back that said “hey, I am only doing this to support our cheer gym. I have an MBA you know.” I felt awkward and embarrassed, which is ridiculous and actually embarrassing to admit. Like I needed for all those people I would never see again and who really were not even seeing me, to think that I was “better” than this, that I really was not server material. Like I could be better than any other person or that what you do for work defines you; ouch, a frightening and humiliating realization.
Lesson Two – Humility/Shame - So there I was worrying about what everyone was thinking about me (pride) amidst their mac and cheese, chicken, bagels, juice and coffee, when we got our break. So all us servers, only two of which were from cheer, sat to eat. I had the privilege to have a great time getting to know two full-time employees who were talking about trials and tribulations and struggle of raising their kids as single parents. How they booked themselves tons of hours and made all sorts of arrangements to get the good paying catering spots. Well pride doth go before a fall, and a big one it was for me to be sure. Here I was wanting to broadcast that I was here due to unusual circumstances only and totally forgot that not only is it a great and needed position, but others were more than happy to be working the event. Had planned their schedule for this event in fact. Embarrassment, shame, there are so many words to describe how I felt and all of them spot on, none or them flattering. Basically it was a “how dare you” moment from God. How dare you take this opportunity for granted, how dare you think you are too good for any good works, how dare you think you are entitled to anything by virtue of your perceived “status”, how dare you lift yourself above any………. The person in the mirror appeared to be a rather small person.
Lesson Three – Excellence - through all the emotional, self-serving, and humbling thoughts the one thing that remained constant during my shift, as it does not matter where or what I am doing, was the goal of excellence. Ask my kids, we should be known as The Excellence Family, not because we necessarily are excellent, but because it is something we strive for from the time we wake til the time we go to bed. When I cater, work grilling hot dogs at a ball game (for cheer), coach, make dinner, jog, whatever I am doing, my goal is excellence. So when I am catering, I service my tables to the very best of my ability. Honest. I want my guests satisfied, their needs met, their experience great. I go above and beyond. That is the only type of pride I find allowable. Taking pride in a job well done.
Lesson Four – Gratitude - as the dust settled, the tables got cleared and the look in the mirror did me a world of good, I was able to make room for gratitude. Gratitude that I can earn some extra money to help the costs for cheer as my husband already works hard for so much else, gratitude that at this point in our lives I do not have to be working a full-time or structured job so I can be a coach and work at the kid’s school, gratitude that there are venues out there who let non profits work to raise money, gratitude that my child is able and willing to participate in activities and sports, gratitude that I am able to work at any job at all, gratitude for a lesson in pride and humility, and praying that lesson is learned, until next time at least.
So be aware as you go through your days, education is never-ending, at least not if you are trying to be the best you can be. There are always lessons to be learned. Lessons on: pride, humility, excellence, and gratitude to name a few. They are not always easy but no one ever said they would be.
Go forth and learn!!!!!!!!!!