Take a moment and imagine the shyest girl you know, and that was me. Growing up, I never wanted to talk to people I didn't know and I would be terrified to have to talk on the phone.
And then, I began working at my aunt's restaurant, as a hostess. By doing this, I was forced to talk to everyone who walked in the door, and I had to answer the phone. It was extremely hard for me at first and I really was challenged to come out of my shell. Eventually, I was able to break free and become good at my job. Within a year, I progressed to be a waitress, with a whole new world of fear.
Now, I had to actually go up to tables and start a conversation with the guests. I grew up watching my mom and all of the waitresses who I came to know and love, so I knew how to act. But, I was kind of faking it, in hope that eventually, I would make it. Being a shy and soft spoken person, it was even hard for me to let the cooks know if I made a mistake. During this time of adjustment, I leaned on my coworkers and family to help me. I am forever thankful for that because now I am my most confident at work. Today, I am able to talk to my tables in a charming and charismatic way. I love going to work and I feel good when I go. I have developed a love of people, and I love learning about people's lives. The restaurant I work at has a clientele that is a majority older people, so there is no doubt stories to hear.
Working as a waitress has helped me develop life skills that years of schooling never did. In school, presentations scared me, and they still do to this day. However, give me 3 or 4 groups of people to talk to and teach them something, I will eat it up. By working as a waitress, I have learned so much about myself, and about relationships. I have learned that I am amazed by what customers have to say. I can recall one night where my last table was an older British couple, and they had both served in World War 2, in the British Army. I sat with them for about a half hour while they told me every story they could remember.
But, waitressing is not all pleasant. This job has also given me a thicker skin and has made it easier for me to work under stress. I have dealt with customers who don't have the word "manners" in their vocabulary, and I have dealt with customers who have no respect for the work I do. However, I do not regret having to serve these people, and I look back at them and realize that each bad run in I had only made me stronger, and made me a better waitress.
The people I work with are basically my family. Since we are family-owned and operated, some of my coworkers are actually my family. But, the employees that have been there for the 20 years we've been open have watched me grow up, and have been there through hard times in my life. Working in a tight-knit community like a small restaurant is incomparable. I would advise anyone looking into the restaurant business to look family owned first. It gives you a new sense of family, helps you learn how to work with different personalities, and ultimately changes the way you look at life.
So thank you, Aunt Annette and the rest of my coworkers, for the opportunity to grow and become the confident woman I am today.