Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No Shame in my Game

Want to know when I graduated college? December 2008. For those whose mind glosses over that time period, let me refresh your memory.

My last semester of college, August 2008-December, was the height of the fall of our economy. September and October were being compared to the crash of '29. I knew it was awful when a teacher told our class, with tears glazing her eyes, that she feared for the graduates. She told us that she had never seen our country this way and felt pity for those of us about to embark in the blood filled waters. She told us we would be LUCKY to find a job. I didn't believe her. I believed that I would be different, I would be fine, I would find a job.

A year and a half later, do you know what I am doing? I am serving at a restaurant. Not to cast a pitiful haze on this profession because I work with some great people; but my parents did not spend $100,000 for me to fetch ketchup and Diet Pepsi's (easy on the ice) to unassuming assholes that dine. Hold on - I am beginning to sound ungrateful. The fact of the matter is, I am downright lucky to have a job at all. My co-workers can be categorized in two groups of people; college graduates in the same position as myself, and middle-aged men and women that have been laid off from their jobs. I get it, the times are tough, we're all hurting in some way, shape, or form. Everyone I work with, including myself, are rolling with the punches, trying to keep our heads above water, and working our asses off. I have zero shame in my hard, honest day's work that I endure, week after week.

Here is something I experienced this morning while serving. I don't know why, but three hours later, I am still reeling from this experience with a certain customer.

Two men, around age 50, are seated in my section. In the middle of service, a co-worker informed me that one of the men is Joe Schmoe, of Schmoe Investments. All I know of this firm are two things - the giant, shiny skyscraper with the flashy "Schmoe Investments" sign and that it employs over a thousand+ employees. My co-worker then informs me that he used to wait on him at another restaurant and his net worth is 2 BILLION. 2 BILLION?! I immediately was overcome with a rush of warmth and excitement that I had a big ole' fat tip comin' my way.

His bill was $31.10. Twenty percent would be $6. I figured being a multi-billionaire he may throw a few extra bucks for my great service and hilarious jokes (Well, hilarious may be subjective. I thought they were hilarious).

He left me $4.50.

I have no idea what it is like to be rich. Hell, I don't know what it's like to be comfortable. I don't even have a savings account! But I will tell you this: I will ALWAYS tip 20% and usually upwards towards 30% for great service. This man has a net worth he will be unable to spend in his lifetime, yet tips a hard-working individual $4.50. It killed me.

An experience like this made me think of the bigger picture. Always be gracious to strangers, tip when it is due, and remember not everyone is as fortunate as yourself. One last thing, it doesn't hurt to smile at your waiter or waitress, it means more to us than you know.


  1. I believe a certain J.R. once told me that there is no reason that you can't have what you want. He was referring to internships at the time as I hadn't heard back on any that I applied for. With that push I sent follow-up, e-mails, calls, etc. and had an internship at the end of the week. You'll do great. Just keep your same positive attitude. Also, check out for job postings. It's a great company to work for and headquarters are in Chicago.

  2. The story of that man just irked me. Sometimes I think rich people are more stingy than regular people - maybe that is why they are so rich. Jonathan and I are still technically riding the unemployment boat. Jonathan keeps getting random assignments here and there and I keep having interviews that are going nowhere. Just keep swimming!