Let me start out by saying I hate the word “humbleness.” Is that even a word? I don’t think it is. The word you’re looking for when you use the jacked up word “humbleness” is humility. You need a dose of humility. You ask God for humility. Don’t use humbleness. It sounds crazy ignorant.
Ok, that wasn’t judgmental at all.
So I’m reading Anne Lamott’s newest book “Help, Thanks, Wow” right now, which may I just say is a beautiful gem of a book. I will definitely be adding it to my permanent collection as it is something I will want to reference. I may actually read through it another time before I shoot it back at the library. Just wonderful. But I had a “Thanks” moment today at work. It was more like a “Holy sh–, THANK YOU.”
You see, I almost dumped a bowl of soup on a woman’s head. Hot soup. Hot creamy mushroom bisque soup.
One of the part time jobs I have currently is as a server at a nice little restaurant in a quaint little downtown-y area where I live. How did I acquire this job you ask? Well, Bill’s cousin is the Assistant Manager. And he’s really nice. And he might have just felt a little bad for me. So he gave me a job. I’ve been working there for about a month and with Christmas and holiday parties and all I haven’t actually taken tables by myself until today.
Now, I’m not totally a stranger to waiting tables…I worked at 2 different restaurants just after college. Which was only about 20 years ago, nearly. But I’m not totally unfamiliar with the job. And hey, my entire life revolves around serving 4 other people, so I’d say I’m well-suited to the task. But it is a little nerve-wracking to be carefully placing food and drink in front of other people. Especially when you’re kind of squeezing around behind one chair to serve another person, trying not to trip over people’s coats and purses that are hanging off the back of their chairs…my hands shake a little bit, I confess. Call it performance anxiety.
So today I’m serving a guy his wrap and cup of soup, leaning over and around the lady sitting next to him. In my other hand is a bowl of mushroom bisque, sitting nicely on a doily on a plate. As I’m leaning, reaching over, of course, my entire body is leaning with me. As I turn my head, I realize the soup in my left hand has slid on its pretty doily to the edge of the plate and the soup inside is starting to slosh over the edge a little bit and the entire works is teetering directly over this woman’s head. I straightened my hand, straightened myself, served the soup to its rightful owner and went on with no one the wiser.
Breathing a very relieved, “THANKS” to God for keeping me from that faux pas. I would have about died. I most certainly would have cried.
As anyone who has been in a job search will tell you, there’s nothing like looking for jobs to make you feel like a totally worthless human being. Since we moved to Maryland 2 months ago, I’ve been in search of some meaningful, part-time job that would use my skills and experience to the best of my ability, all within a mom-friendly schedule.
Instead I have applied for a bunch of jobs that were mediocre, at best, none of which I heard a single peep about once my resume was sent. I got the server position because Chris is very kind and I’ve also been substitute teaching, again because I have connections at the school. Neither job is very consistent, and both come with their lessons in humility. (Subbing will get its own entire post, just wait.)
It is very humbling to be 40 years old, with a college degree and working at a restaurant. With the exception of the owner, I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest one in there (at least, of the people I’ve met.). It helps that everyone thought I was under 30 when I started…they know better now but you can bet your sweet petunias that I’m staying on top of my hair color. Everyone is super nice to me…I appreciate that tremendously. I can’t help but wonder though if people think I’m kind of pathetic in there, like I can’t get anything better.
Well. I can’t.
I fluctuate between being jealous of everyone there for being young and unattached and not having to worry about kids and mortgages and all the trappings of my very traditional life, and being very thankful that I’m not 25 and single and renting and being a hip and non-suburban, non-mom. I go back and forth between enjoying working there (it’s fun and social and everyone’s nice) and feeling rather pathetic and wondering what I’m doing there.
Well, what I’m doing there is trying my darndest to take care of my family. I think what I’ve realized through this is that there’s nothing I am too good for when it comes to taking care of my family. We’re in a position where I need to help out financially. That’s just the reality of our life right now. And if that means waiting tables then that’s what it means. With the kids still needing me around I am limited in what I can reasonably do right now, and this job is perfect time-wise. I’m not making a million dollars, but it’s better than nothing, and every little bit helps, right? Maybe its pathetic to some people, maybe someone would say “You’re better than that”. What am I supposed to do though, sit around waiting for the perfect situation to come along?
The other day I was driving the kids to school and we got stuck behind the trash truck. The guys were hopping off and grabbing the trash and throwing it in. It was cold. It was trash. I just thought about these men, spending the day with our trash, day in, day out, hot and cold weather, rainy and snowy and windy. Getting our trash. Is that what they dreamed about growing up? Probably not. But they are presumably taking care of themselves, taking care of their families by doing a job that most people would disdain.
I’ve seen a lot of posts recently on Facebook that were about panhandlers, or people on welfare, etc. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t poor people out there who are cheaters and liars and lazy and just looking for a handout. There are plenty of wealthy people who would fit that description too. I guess in a roundabout way what I’m getting at in this post is that we need to really be humble about our circumstances. That things could change. That we aren’t too good for a particular job. That we aren’t better than someone else. That we need to keep ourselves grounded and let that affect how we interact with the people around us. Whether we’re a trash collector or a CEO.
Just don’t call it humbleness.