Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back at Work in the City

I work food service in a busy cafe in a hospital. It's good money most of the time but high action and high stress. The customers are all the nurses, interns, doctors, patients and other workers, everyone from the public transit to the construction workers on the riverfront. Today was one of those especially trying days where everyone had some special request, weren't happy about something in their personal life and taking it out on those around them or just plain rude. To boot, I haven't slept and have had a lot on my plate emotionally and physically. None of my other coworkers were particularly happy about the day either, but I gave out a few shoulders massages and tried to keep my spirits up. The whole point of me working there, besides the money of course, is to just be the as much a bright spot in these people's day as I can. Working in a hospital isn't easy when you're treated like a vending machine, as my manager put it, and people have lots of sadness, anxiety and fear about these physical traumas they've just gone through.

But just when I thought I wouldn't be able to make it through with a positive, giving attitude, of course, genuineness came through to the rescue. A man about old enough to be my father came in with his female companion and after a transaction full of complaint from her, he looked me in the eye and said something to the effect of this: so many people come through here, ailing and sad, and you are just smiling and so positive, it really makes a difference and I sure appreciate it. I must be hard, but with your attitude, I bet you're a lot older than you look. He looked at me like if I was his son, he'd be proud and he meant it. He was a salt of the earth type of man, with an outdoor tan, beard and layman's speak. His words touched me in such a way that will not fade for moons and moons. I felt tears come near when I brought it to memory as I cleaned up to close the cafe. This is why I do what I do. Not just to make a dollar or twenty. Just to give a little care to each person who walks in with all their rawness and offer something more than a cup of coffee, but an actual real connection with a compassionate human being. Thanks, man, I hope you do have a good night.

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