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Arlene Andrews
Arlene Andrews

Posted on • Originally published at on

A late thank you, for Toni and Jeanie

We see many talents every day. Everyone who is doing a good job has skills that might be learned from. And finding out how they are able to accomplish their tasks will always increase our own skills, and help us develop an empathy for other people's challenges and tasks that might be invisible at a casual glance.

Since I am happily applying for jobs, the interview questions come at me in batches, and really don't give me the opportunity to think, at that time, about the origins of my outlook. And conversations recently have led me to look at "What is quality, and acceptability, to me? And who did I first learn these ideas from?"

I think the first one to give me the attitude of quality was a server at one of the restaurants that my father frequented for work purposes, and I occasionally was invited to join them. As a young person, the atmosphere of a slightly upscale eating area, with my father's coworkers around, was a treat – even if I was the youngest person in the room by a good 15 years.

Toni was the server that we most-often were seated with, when I was in attendance. She, to my young eyes, was a magical person: she remembered orders, favorite people, and pets names – plus was able to make everyone feel comfortable, important, and welcome. I never remember a glass being empty, nor a less-than-delightful experience – but that may be looking back many years.

In admiring her, and her work ethic, I added in getting what was asked for to the person that requested it, making sure that it was accurate, and as prompt as possible. Being able to sort multiple workflows, and engage with those that are around in a professional manner – these are things I learned from her.

A lesson was added, many years later, to what I learned from her. I was applying for jobs, and stopped in to ask if they were hiring. A very familiar voice was in that room – I still remembered Toni's voice. And she recognized me – by name. This made a major impression on me, again. It had been more than a dozen years, but she was able to recall many details about me. I have worked on that talent – and it's still a work in progress.

Well, I didn't get that job – mostly because I didn't turn in the application. My first case of Impostor Syndrome.

I did, however, find a waitress job a year or so later. I was new, and severely intimidated. The place was small – and there were two of us: I'd get some training and/or help the first few days, correct? That assumption was proven false rather quickly. After a month, I figured out being a server wasn't a good option for me – I was fine with dealing with the people, I simply wasn't good with some of the other aspects.

Thankfully, there was Jeanie on shift with me. She was in her late 60's, and had been a server for many places because she loved it. She had a slow gait, but had the experience to do many of the tasks that needed done as she went by. She wasn't the best teacher – to her, you either knew it or you didn't. But an after-shift cup of coffee, watching her and noting what she did taught me that rushing and getting things done without a plan was not efficient. And that knowing what you are doing, and what you are good at, are two of the things that make a job 'work'.

I have had many other inspirations, and may add them into future posts. Take time to look at how you formed your work ethic, and your foundation of the ideas you bring to work with you may prove instructive, and hopefully allow for some memories of those who gave you those ideas, or their antithesis, a bit of room to influence your growth.

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