Scuffing the ground with my feet, the red dust billows and settles lightly over the white tips of my all star shoes. After tapping the bat tip to the ground, I raise the club over my shoulder. My opponent stands across from me, lifts the ball slowly and suddenly hurls it at me. Eyes narrow. Soft cotton touches my flexed stomach. I swing the bat and wake to the sound of the alarm. Bouncing out of bed to waitress at my hometown diner, I count it all joy. This joy I find in my job revolves around people and what I learn from those people. My job makes work a game because I have the most talented boss, I waitress in a joyful environment, and I serve the best food with my team, “the Hartland Diner.”
In order to understand the best job ever, one needs to understand the owner. Her skills, smarts, talents, and personality create the diner atmosphere. Nicole employs me and my many siblings but she also edits my papers, takes her employees to Broadway, blasts 80’s music, and opens her home to girls in need. On her farm she cares for 400 animals, buys large trucks for the heck of it, wakes at 5:30 a.m. to haul hay bales, and wears pink overalls and perfect make-up. At the diner, she insists on flashing Christmas lights year round, flips the world’s largest pancakes, educates the public with the United States Constitution placed on all the tables, and sings so loudly from the kitchen window that she entertains depressed customers. Why, one might ask, with so many talents, when her father produces some of the most impressive displays of theater on Broadway, when she has a law degree, does she decide to sacrifice these opportunities to open a diner in the middle of a small town in Vermont? She lives by this, “Go big or go home!” and hence the team motto, “World Diner Domination.” My job beats all other jobs because of a talented, sharp, opinionated woman who strives for much to give all. Coach Nicole influences my life and how I focus when I go up to bat.
She expects the same “big” standards she holds for herself from her employees. It produces a quality atmosphere for all. Any coach knows attitude spreads. Bad attitudes spread like a cancer. Quality laborers matters. Waitressing refines the character and skills of any worker. “If ya don’t got it, ya don’t last,” meaning work ethic like attitude matters. Unlike procrastinating with homework, procrastinating with a customer paves a likely path for unemployment. Attentiveness while waitressing often determines the quantity of the tip. Lasting rewards lie in working hard, well, and giving a “how was your meal” smile. Large tips reflect that work, and a genuine thank you from a patron full of pancake and bacon satisfies one’s efforts. Working at the diner under the influence of my boss trains me one plate of food at a time to overcome weaknesses like procrastination. At the very heart of the game lies the stomach.
Where I work, my boss provides the best food, and I try to match this high standard with the best service. I have the opportunity to influence people by genuinely loving them and taking care of their basic needs, sometimes just listening. Dressed in all star shoes, a baseball-T, and a baseball cap, I greet a man and make him comfortable at the counter. He speaks few words, but as soon as I set a hamburger with fries and a glass-bottled coke in front of him complete with a smile, he begins pouring out his life story. Through large bites of food he shares what kind of memories the diner and my personality bring to him. The Hartland Diner transports people back in time. As patrons share their stories, we connect over sports heroes, all star shoes, and hometowns. My identity in Christ and the God I serve foremost determine my ability to serve others compassionately.
Every Wednesday and Friday I wake up at six a.m. to greet my diner family as they stroll into the diner to sit at the counter, sip coffee, and read the newspaper. Each night I go to sleep and dream about my team. Upon recollection I never dream about the opposition. Rather I see only smiles and watch people trip, laugh, and continue to compete. After a hard game, we rest sweaty, dusty, but happy. After a long day waitressing, I rest achy, sleepy, but content. Perhaps the greatest thing about my job involves people. My job has the best boss, encourages ministry, and creates community. With a humble mindset, I learn how to play the game striving for the best in myself and seeking the best in others. I may trip and fall when I swing the bat, but I laugh and get up to swing again. What do I have to lose? “Go big or go home!” says my coach.