We see them regularly but too often we know nothing about them. They are a means to an end. They take our orders accept out money for said orders and then hand them out the window to us and we drive away on our way to wherever we’re going never giving them another thought. Oh if they manage to make us mad or maybe a little later when we open our bag of heart clogging, high calorie, often very unhealthy goodies and find out that our order was wrong and then we may curse the server a blue steak.
We rarely if ever fill out those pesky little surveys to let the company they work for know if the person was doing a good job when they so obviously are but let them make us mad enough we often will complain to the manager or even take it to the company itself but good feedback we rarely bother with. Right now we are bogged down with the idea of raising the minimum wage of these people to fifteen dollars an hour because that just seems to be ridiculous and I have to admit I’m one of them. This little bit of prose however has nothing to do with the wage for these people but a story about one.
There is a fast food place that I’ve been frequenting for a very long time and for the past twenty years most of those visits I have been waited on by one person. I have stopped in there about once a week for twenty plus years and I’ve been dealing with this lady nearly every time. I’m not going to say this dear lady was a ray of sunshine because she wasn’t. She was often gruff and a little abrasive. After about two years one night she was particularly irritating to say the least and we exchanged a few words because of it. We actually ended up calling one another a bitch. Thinking about that now makes me laugh. You see, that’s the night I got to know her a little better.
I started learning about what she went through during her daily job and soon I understood just what she did go through working at that window, not to mention the main counter, on a daily basis. It was nothing if not a bitch having to put up with what she did. It got to where when I drove up to the window to pay for my order she would get a little glint in her eye and give me that sign of exasperation as she shook her head. I would ask her what ass had pulled some rotten thing this time and she would tell me. Be it a customer just before me or one of her coworkers she would fill me in with a few words and then sigh once more as she shrugged her shoulders. Don’t get me wrong here, this was never done in a complaining way but just a few words delivered in a matter-of-fact way. I learned over the years that this woman rarely smiled but her eyes would light up and sparkle which only emphasized what I learned was her very dry sense of humor. The thing about this lady was she became one of the highlights of my week. I never left that restaurant without a smile on my face if she was working. For almost twenty years this woman made me smile and I think I brought a little sunshine into her life as well or at least I hope I did.
This past Monday I dove through the drive through and when I pulled up to the window there was a sign on it starting with ‘in loving memory’ with this beautiful woman’s name on it. I cried. It hurts. You see, for all the smiles and laughter this woman brought me over the years I never really got to know her. I never had the time, nor did she actually because she was always busy when she worked. Oh I knew when she went on vacation because she made of point of letting me know when she wouldn’t be there or one of the other people there would let me know if she was ill when I drove through but I never knew anything really about her and I regret that.
Most of the time when picking up something quickly at a drive through or even when you go somewhere and sit down for a meal you never see the person waiting on you again but sometimes you do meet people waiting on you that you may see repeatedly and you get used to them and they get used to you but that is all it is, you get used to one another. There are about three of these people that I have become more than used to however and I’ve become attached to and this lady was one of them. I only wish I had gotten to know her better.
The point here I guess, if there is any, is if there is someone like this in your life find a way to let them know they are important. Let them know that you do care. Whether it is someone serving you your meal or someone waiting on you in a store that you see regularly let them know they are appreciated. You won’t know how much they matter until they are no longer there when you need them and that could hurt more than you realize until it’s too late to do anything about it.
Goodbye Beautiful, you will be missed.
In memory of Melissa