Friday, March 8, 2013

The Experiment

                Hello once again my dear reader. I’m currently on my front porch (shocker there); I have a nice cigar going and something to share with you. And, as I write this, I have felt a need to revisit one of my favorite books, this time, on audio. The book you ask? Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so. Or, at least listen to the book on audio. Which brings me to my current blog…
                I came to an odd yet remarkable epiphany about two weeks ago that led me to do something I thought I had been doing all along… setting an example. Which is something I thought I had been doing for years now; apparently I hadn’t. You see, I have this great kid, fruit of my loins so to speak. I love her with all my heart and like all parents, I want what is best for her and I want her to succeed. I want her to not struggle the way I have in the past. Nothing wrong with those sentiments that I can tell, after all, aren’t parents supposed to do everything in their power for their kids?
                But, and this is a big but… aren’t we supposed to show them how life and jobs work? How to make money and how to be fiscally responsible? I say yes; and since my daughter is now in her teen years I felt I needed to take matters into my own hands and show her what a person has to do, have to suffer and has to swallow in order to make even the smallest of cash so that they can call it theirs. Earned through their sweat, their personal struggle and physical effort. Yes, my dear reader, I took my daughter to my part time job to show her how a person makes money. This is that story.
                The idea came while I was at my part time job, my child had almost daily for the past week asked me for money. Not just a buck or two, or even three. But five, ten and twenty dollars at a time; each time she did this memories of my childhood filled me. A childhood filled with odd jobs around the neighborhood trying to earn a few bucks for candy, soda, comic books and records. In the summer I mowed grass, in the winter I shoveled driveways and when I was old enough I got a paper route. When my family moved, I found other ways to make money. I was and have been pretty good at doing this all my life. Now, it was time to pass on to my daughter what one does to earn money.
                When I broached the subject of bringing my offspring to work with the owners of the restaurant I work at, they were both understanding and accepting of the idea. When I informed my daughter, she was excited… I was pleasantly surprised. Her eagerness was as contagious as a winter cold.
                When the day for work finally arrived, she was up early, dressed and full of enthusiasm. I started the day with a weary outlook, an outlook from too many years of repetitive tasks and knowing what the day had to offer. Two thoughts brought a smile to my face, the opportunity to work with my daughter and teach her, and knowing I would be richer economically by the end of the day. I tried to be as excited for her as she was for herself, but I couldn’t muster it. I had become numb to the excitement and enthusiasms most feel when going to work for the first time. I don’t think anyone can keep that level of energy elevated for long periods of time. I know I can’t
                The work shift started out as it always does, with side-work. I showed my daughter how to clean the tables, sweep and mop the floors, fill ice bins, prep salad dressings, stock soda and beer, make coffee and all the other minor duties restaurant attendees take for granted. She was more than eager to pitch in and help. She was like a sponge, absorbing everything I showed her and repeating those tasks easily and readily.
                Once all the prep work was finished, we relaxed a bit and I showed her the special board. Then we waited for the first customers. We didn’t have to wait long. By twelve-fifteen we were in full swing. My daughter followed me around as I showed her the ins and outs of food service and good customer service. Drink orders first, and then get the drinks to the table. Talk about specials, take appetizer or food order, put order in to kitchen, get salads if needed and drop them off to the table and move on to the next table.  Not difficult work and very repetitious and it allows my mind to wander on to other tasks, such as blog topics, story plots and subplots. You know things that an active mind needs to do to survive. While doing all of this my daughter shadowed me and learned.
                Soon, she was making drinks, salads and refilling glasses as well as cleaning off tables and setting them after the customers left. When I asked if she was ok, she readily said “Yes, no problem yet. This is easy.” And I had to agree with her, the motions are easy, the delivery is easy and even for the most part, the customers are easy. I smiled at her and agreed with her sentiments and said “It gets tougher sweetie, trust me.”
                By two-thirty she was ready to quit. The steady stream of customers, the endless refills of drinks and the never ending task of cleaning up after other people had made her tired and aggravated. So much so she begged to take a few minutes to sit down and rest. I told her she could and let her alone for ten minutes, I even got her a piece of bread to eat to stave off the inevitable hunger pains a waiter suffers while working a long shift.
                By the end of the shift, actually an hour after closing, she had done everything a waiter could do except serve an alcoholic beverage. She had rings around her eyes from being tired, she had a small hitch in her step from the constant walking, a hitch that says she may be developing a blister or two. She was thirstier than an ill prepared camel halfway across the Mojave Desert and… she was STARVING! I showed her how to fill out her money reports and sign out. I then tipped her ten bucks for helping me.
                Instantly the tired look in her eyes and face was replaced with a smile that started at her lips, moved to her eyes. Her droopy shoulders and exhausted nature was quickly replaced with a straightened back and an air of pride because she knew she not only worked hard and earned money but also earned respect from her father. I even told her I respected how hard she worked and then told her how proud I was of her for surviving a four hour Sunday lunch service and a six hour shift.
                As we walked out the door, saying our goodbyes to the owners, she told me she was starving; I readily agreed to treat her to anything she wanted. Double cheeseburger was her response.
                When we got home, she flopped on the couch and began to eat. Her only comment was “This is the best burger I’ve ever eaten.” I told her it was because she earned it, everything is better when you earn it.
                Experiment… Successful.

No comments:

Post a Comment