Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Courage To Hand Out Hamburgers

I've long thought that the people who work the fast-food drive-through windows are superheroes. They have to take an order at the same time they're delivering another order and making change. If I hadn't seen it a thousand times, I'd swear it was humanly impossible. I think it takes a lot of gumption to take up that kind of juggling at all.

There are a examples everywhere of such everyday courage. Flipping through an old Sun magazine last night, I ran across an essay about the kind of emotional fuel such work requires.

From "They Always Call You 'Miss'" by Alison Clement:

"There's more to waiting tables than you might think. It takes courage, for one thing. You walk up to a table, and everyone turns to look at you, as if you're about to deliver the opening line of a play....You have to act as if you know what you're doing and everything is going according to a plan....You have to remember: Gin and tonic to table 8; man at 12 is late for a meeting; nut allergy on 5. You have to remember it all and not get overwhelmed."

If I start to feel down on human nature, I think about the ordinary things that people muster the courage to do every day.

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billie said...

I have always said I could never be a waitperson, and I suspect I wouldn't last more than one shift at a fast food place.

This reminds me of a question I've always had about how much money people make doing different things.

It seems so odd to me that heads of corporations and companies make so much (oftentimes while doing so little) while people who feed us and clean our living spaces and care for/teach our children make so much less. It just seems backwards to me.

Peggy Payne said...

I agree, Billie. Do you ever see the Parade magazine annual survey of what people make? It's weirdly fascinating and unsettlig.