Service Workers And The Apron Of Invisibility

Service Workers And The Apron Of Invisibility

How working in the dining hall taught me a lesson on gratitude.

Don't get me wrong. I love working at the dining hall. My student managers are endlessly entertaining, one of my shift partners may very well be my lost twin, and every screw up I make is always met with an empathetic "don't worry, I've done that a million times." Wheeling around carts filled with freshly cleaned plates also happens to be a surprisingly soothing study break. But there's something that bothers me every time I thread my ponytail through the back of my cap and tie that Princeton-orange apron around my waist — suddenly I become invisible.

I initially thought my awful cart maneuvering skills were to blame for the increased frequency of bumping into people. Soon, I noticed the trend of awkward path-crossing extended beyond when I lugged that giant tomb of plates behind me. People didn't make eye contact as I walked by, and they reached across me to grab cups and plates instead of waiting the fifteen seconds for me to finish up my refills.

"Sorry, I didn't see you there."

That was the line I heard the most when people would run into me, occasionally without the brief apology tacked on to the beginning. I would beam back an "it's alright" with my brightest customer service smile when I realized that one sentence summed up what I was feeling perfectly — I was in a busy game of bumper cars, but I also had to carry a pile of very breakable porcelain on my back and I was invisible.

In service, a funny distinction between strangers and workers is made, which I also found apparent during my summer job at a diner. If a stranger were to prepare your food, serve you dishes, or even offer you an extra set of silverware when you need it, you would most certainly thank them, provided you were raised with even an ounce of manners. I was at the dining hall the other day (not working a shift), when I removed an empty cup crate for the person waiting behind me and I was met with a friendly "thanks."

But when I find myself or my coworkers mounting crates of cups next to the drink machines, sweeping away marinara sauce and dropped salad greens, and trekking up the stairs with tubs of ice cream refills, I am most frequently met with a disgruntled look of "I'm upset that I have to wait a few seconds more to pick up a plate" and the rare expression of gratitude.

The obvious argument is that strangers are not paid to do the things workers are. But is it really that hard to not be an awful person and thank the people who pick up your trash and clean up your dishes?

And I'm just a student worker. The situation is amplified many more times for full-time workers and the service industry as a whole. These workers are the people we would much rather not pay attention to when we dine at restaurants or shop at malls, so we choose to pretend they are invisible. Just like how my Princeton-orange apron is a visual cue for people's line of sight to gloss right past me.

So I really am thankful for my time working in food service. It's taught me a fundamental lesson about kindness: we really can never be too kind to others. You never know when a tired Princeton student might feel inspired to write an article about you and how her apron of invisibility is a getting little worn out.

Cover Image Credit: University Press Club

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There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

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Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Excellent Advice From Unexpected Places

Who thought aliens from a silly space app could give good advice. Welcome to Walkr.


GI recently got a pedometer app (a step tracker) called Walkr: Fitness Space Adventure. Along with tracking your steps, it unlocks planets that have little alien inhabitants. These creatures send you messages occasionally, some silly, some helpful, and everything in between. I thought I would share with you my favorites thus far. Here are my top 15 inspirational messages from aliens:

1. When you are doubting yourself...

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Zombies love you for who you are, no matter what.

2. Take care of those you love...

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4. There are no shortcuts in life...

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5. Eat your vegetables...

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6. Take time to take care of yourself...

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7. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes...

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8. Where words fail, music speaks...

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Bon Jovi probably liked space. Express yourself with music, or tune out the world to take care of yourself.

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11. Never stop believing...

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15. Don't judge a book by it's cover...

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Some of this advice may seem silly, but rooted deep in it can be found inspirational advice. You may not see it now, but when you need to hear it, that advice becomes very clear. Who knew that a ball of ghost fire or a sugar cube could give such good advice? I hope at least one of these little aliens gave you some useful inspiration today.

For other enjoyable apps to stay healthy, including Walkr, see this article.

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