Serving Stories: Mother's Day

I have survived Mother’s Day.

Right now you’re probably thinking that I am a terrible, ungrateful child.

But allow me to explain…

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant for an extended period of time, you know that holidays take on entirely new meanings.

New Year’s Eve is no longer a fun night to get drunk with your friends. It’s the night you work twelve hours straight but make enough money to cover half a month’s rent.

Valentine’s Day is no longer the day for a romantic date with your significant other. It’s the day you have to haul all the tables for four into storage and replace the whole dining-room with tables for two. At least you can skip the gym that day.

And Mother’s Day is no longer a day you get to spend making your wonderful mother breakfast in bed. It’s the day you feed eggs to 477 people in six hours.

I was dreading Mother’s Day for a good three weeks this year. This was partly because everyone in the industry speaks of it with the same hushed reverence and fear that normal people use when they speak of earthquakes and tornadoes. I’ve worked Mother’s Day before of course, but this is the first year that I was in charge of running the entire show. I’m the one responsible for making sure the restaurant doesn’t burn down and for keeping the stampede of people who forgot to make reservations from breaking down the doors.

I love my job, and I love my Mother, so why did this day inspire so much dread?

I think it has a lot do to with my desire to make people happy and my personal fear of letting people down. When it’s your job to please almost 500 people, it’s pretty much impossible that every single one of them leaves their brunch deliriously happy. But I take things personally and it’s hard not to see it as a personal failure when even one customer is frustrated that their eggs took five minutes longer than usual or that we are completely booked and can’t offer a different table.

I’m trying to learn to let things go and to learn that I can’t please everyone all the time. Even if it’s unofficially part of my job description. I can only do my best with the resources I have and the situation at hand.

When I’ve got a restaurant full of hungry people, a line of impatient walkins out the door, and a phone ringing off the hook, all I can do is breathe and remember: This Too Shall Pass.

I love you Mom, but thank god this day only comes once a year!