For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. (T. S. Eliot)
It was a beautiful Christmas Eve day in the burbs of Atlanta. People were out shopping at our outdoor mall in short-sleeved tee-shirts. It was a bit windy and my hair blew every which way, but the cool air felt wonderful on my face and arms.
2018 has been a year of healing for me. My husband says I’m a different person. As you regular readers know, I retired from a career in higher education in June.
At 22 when I got my first job at the college from which I graduated, I had an office with my name on the door and a secretary. That was the case throughout my career.
But I said that when I retired I wanted to do something very different from higher education administration.
Well, now I’m a waitress and schlep hot dogs. That’s pretty different.
I never clean my own house; I’ve had the same cleaning woman for the past 17 years.
But at the restaurant I clean tables, take out the trash and mop the floors. I take pride in my work. Our restaurant is very clean. Oh, I scrub the toilet too.
In some ways selling hot dogs is not that different from working in higher education. You have something to sell. You need to advertise, provide a great product, be nice to customers, go the second mile to make them satisfied, treat your employees right, keep the environment clean and pleasant…. I know how to do all that. I did it for 38 years. I was good at it. The skill set is quite transferable.
It cracks me up when people say I’m a good waitress. In all the jobs I had growing up and going through school, I never was a wait person and never worked in a restaurant. I’m a good waitress because I care about the customers, I’m friendly to them, and I try to anticipate their needs before they ask. I am rewarded with some nice tips. But, that’s not why I do it. I do it because it’s the right thing for a business owner to do.
Each month our sales get better than the month before. We’re a long way from a profit, but we have to pay ourselves back what we invested in the business before we’ll be profitable. But, we’re patient and know that day will come. We’re only six months old now.
The past six months have been cathartic for me. There is great joy in serving the public and making sure they have a good meal at a reasonable price. I sleep late everyday and wear casual clothes and tennis shoes to work. I work from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. I can have the day off anytime I want. My husband sees to that. I’m at work 5 minutes after I leave my house.
There have been times in my career when I drove 90 minutes to work each way. During the last 7.5 years of my career I drove 40 minutes each way. I save a ton of money on gas, clothes, lunch money, and other expenses.
I don’t know that I want to do this kind of work for the next twenty years, but for now I am happy helping my husband make our business successful. It sometimes gets in the way of my writing, painting, and other things I like to do.
I reminded my 8-year-old granddaughter that I work six days a week now. She said, “So, you’re not really retired.” Yep, I’m not really retired.
Life is good at the end of 2018. I look forward to what 2019 has in store for me and my family.
I wish you a very Happy New Year. May you find something to do that brings you joy and satisfaction. May you find something to do that has you serving others. God bless.