Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | March 1, 2011

My Name is Leigh and I’ll be Your Server Today

I never waited tables – Well, I had a stint with an inter-active murder-mystery dinner theatre where I waited tables in character, but that’s a whole different story – I never had your classic waitress job. I drove an ice cream truck, was a meter reader, worked in a campus museum, ran a Renaissance Festival… But never was a server.

These days I have a fancier title and a great office with a view, but few would call what I do being in “the service industry.”  I spent the last year flying to a lot of important meetings, sitting scross the table from some impressive people, working on a project that has a lot of merit and huge potential. Someone said to me a while back that I sure had come a long way from my days driving an ice cream truck.

Maybe I have, but I hope I haven’t left those jobs completely behind. I learned a LOT from them. I learned how to work with and respect all different kinds of people. I learned how to work hard and find joy in a job well done. I learned that some of the most amazing people I will ever know go to work every day in coveralls with their name sewn above the left pocket. I learned that our communities are held together by people with strong backs and dirt under their finger nails. I learned that just because I might have a nice office on the 5th floor with a view, I am absolutely no better than anyone else. And I learned that the person with the fancier car, larger house, more impressive stock portfolio, and more impressive resume isn’t any better than me.

All too often we think about those service jobs (waiter, retail clerk, etc.) as the job we do to help get us to the “real” job. Some day, when we have a career, we can leave serving others behind.  I think that’s backwards. I think that we’re supposed to serve more, the higher we climb the ladder.

The world says we should fight for ourselves, get what we’re due, look out for number one! “I drive a better car, have a bigger house, have a nicer office, more expensive clothes – That makes me better. More important.” It is hard to drown out that voice – it is all around us.

But sometimes the strongest thing you can do is take a back seat, and let someone else drive a while. Sometimes the truest leader steps out of the spotlight to let someone else shine. I have found my greatest joy in the times when I can honestly know that something I did helped someone else be better, stronger, happier. Whenever I forget this and turn the spotlight back on myself, I feel a comforting self-righteousness for a while, but soon it gets a little hot and uncomfortable. Then I have to learn this lesson all over again.

What truly matters is living a life that matters. When you help someone else shine, the applause are much sweeter. When you let someone else sit in the drivers seat a while, you can really enjoy the view.

So, tomorrow, I will put on my clearance rack outfit and drive in my duct tape car to my 5th floor office with a view. I’ll endeavor to leave my misplaced pride at home and focus the spotlight in the direction of what’s right. If I can do that, I’m willing to bet my life will be all the more richer.

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