(This post also appears on gloryannaboge.com.)
This guy had been with Taco Bell for about two years. He worked on the line making the food, moved to the window and eventually became a shift manager. His small frame, tattoos, and what I would guess piercings, made him the stereotypical “punk.” Except he was about thirty years old and I don’t know about you, but as an 8th grade teacher, I have a hard time calling a grown man “punk.” I tend to think of hot-headed, mid-puberty teenage boys as punks. This guy had a sharp-sounding voice and easily commanded the attention of the workers at Taco Bell. Not so much like an 8th grade boy.
You see, my husband is a Mt. Dew addict and this Mt. Dew HAS to come from the Taco Bell that is about two miles from our house. Seriously, it’s a straight shot and my husband loooooveesss going there to grab his drink. It’s like the rest of us and our Starbuck’s addiction. Unfortunately, when I was pregnant with Asher, I became addicted to Taco Bell’s Gordita Crunch (I don’t know what my excuse is now!) and we got to know this “adult punk” pretty well. So, when you’re seeing this guy about two times a week (OK, 3-4 times a week, especially during the 2nd trimester!! I know, I know.) you start to talk and get to know these awesome people who work in the life of fast food.
Turns out he had two daughters, a woman he’d been with off and on to have two daughters with, and was working full time to support them, all the while trying to finish up getting his high school degree. As I got to know Matt (let’s call him Matt for privacy sake), I started to realize that this guy would give me the shirt off his back if I needed it. Matt was a hard worker who was doing what he needed to do to provide the way he could for his family. I don’t know about you, but when I typically go through a fast food restaurant, I tend to glaze over the workers and forget that they are real.
Fast food is well, FAST. The whole goal of these places is to get you in and out without even a moment’s notice of the hard workers behind all the fast. Have you ever thought about some of the crazy skills these people are either developing or honing when it comes to working at McDonald’s? The multitasking. The agility of flipping a hamburger while quickly reading the screen and wrapping a special order, all the while preparing for the next item on the order screen. My husband, who is an engineer, would absolutely struggle in this environment.
So as I got to know Matt throughout our pregnancy with Asher, I started paying attention to people behind the counter. I started reading their name tags and saying hello to them by name. And you know what started happening? The more we went in there, the more they started to get to know us and talk to us about our new beginning with our little family. The folks at Taco Bell started becoming pretty cool.
Of course, Mike loved this. I probably shouldn’t tell you this because the crazy Taco Bell people might come down on us through the NSA or something, but I can’t count the times Mike would get a free drink. I felt like Taco Bell became our Cheers. The kindness came to a peak after Asher was born.
We planned to take Asher to TB (that’s what we call it in our house) to show him off, especially to Matt who had a soft spot in our heart. Mike had said we would by later in the week. You know what those awesome people who work many hours to meet other folks’ needs at Taco Bell did for us?
They rallied a bag of baby clothes and items to give us for Asher. It was one of the sweetest gifts we received.
I don’t always think to say hello to folks when I am getting lunch at Arby’s. I don’t always make eye contact with the multitasking queen behind the register. But I try. I try to notice people in the workforce more often. People who are doing a service for me. People who are working the grind to buy that first car. People who are happy to have their first job. People who are looking for extra money to help with their retirement. People who we probably don’t always consider hard workers, which is really unfortunate. Yes, there are always the teenagers who need to grow up and the lady who is skating by, but I don’t want to define everyone by a certain someone.
That’s why it is worth it to say hello using their name and acknowledging the service they are doing for you. You never know where that hello will take you.
What about about you? Do you try to acknowledge people in the service industry? How do you do it? What stops you from doing it? Let us know in the comments below!
(This post also appears on gloryannaboge.com.)
Some of us blogging buddies are committed to writing more weekly on our blogs! We have a variety of topics we’ll be writing about! To check out these lovely ladies and where their writing is taking them, click on their blog links below! And as always, tip your waters.
Aimme at mamacentric.com
Abbie at grumblinggrace.com
Emily at emilyfisk.com
Harmony at mywanderingheartsong.wordpress.com