A 2015 intern and ICC Alumnus, Michelle was working her job as a waitress one day when she had this experience:
My first table was an elderly couple. Both ordered their meals and one of their sides was a cup of chili. Usually the chili comes out with the salads, four to five minutes after the order is put in, but for some reason it never went out. When I went up to ask how they were doing they wondered where their chili was. I responded that I would find out.
When I dropped their chili off, I apologized it was so late and told them their food was almost ready. The gentlemen quickly rushed to tell me he did not want it. He wanted to eat his chili. I told him I could hold the food in the back for him but he didn’t want it to dry out or get cold. At that moment, one of my coworkers brought their food to the table. He very loudly said he did not want it and to take it away from him. He then said, “You are a horrible server.” I asked what he wanted me to do. He wanted all new food. I said of course and did just that.
Throughout the evening this man called me a liar for not knowing where his chili was. When he was paying, he said I manipulated him into buying more drinks because I didn’t tell him they weren’t included in the happy hour pricing. (happy hour prices did not include the drinks they ordered). He said he would only pay for one.
When I dropped off their ticket he said, quite boastfully, “I am sorry for ruining your night.” Out of our entire encounter this was the only thing that made me angry. He was just a man complaining about food. He did not have the power to ruin my day. To even think he had that much power over me was insulting. Smiling, I told him he hadn’t ruined my day. I thanked him for coming and hoped to see him again.
I was angry because I was choosing to have a good day. I was choosing to enjoy myself. I was seeing sunshine and I was dancing in the kitchen. At the end of of my touring internship, I learned a situation is only as bad as I let it. I might think I'm drowning but if I stopped and stood up, I would see that I was actually in a kiddie pool.
The rest of my shift was a sparkling dream. One of my tables wrote on their check, “Thank you Michelle!” and tipped me 34%. Over tour, I got so used to looking for silver linings and smiling through bruises that it effortlessly transferred over here. Last year I would have gone to the back office and cried. I might have even paid another server to wait on their table so I wouldn’t have to deal with them.
Instead, I smiled. I kept my voice even and did not respond to what he was serving me. I learned to tread water on tour. I guess it’s just like riding a bike.
//Michelle Hagood//2015 Intern