I work part time as a server for a serving and bartending company. I enjoy my job because it gets me out and amongst different people, the money is decent and most often we’re allowed to eat (major perk).
Let me first start by saying that 9 out of 10 people are fantastic. I never feel disrespected. I am always welcomed and the majority of clients and their guests treat me very well. That being said I recently ran into the one out of 10 who had the ability to make me feel so very small.
I stepped out on to the patio with a tray of appetizers I was serving after being in the kitchen for a few hours assisting our Lead Server. I thought I’d give the girls who had been serving nonstop for a few hours a little breather. The first table I walked up to was mostly older gentlemen in their late 60’s and early 70’s. There was one woman in her 70’s seated in the corner. I asked if they would like to try an appetizer and one of the men rather boisterously piped up “where have they been hiding you?” I laughed it off.
The situation went down hill from there. There were a variety of off handed remarks that were nothing short of vulgar. I slid away with a little less bounce in my step and continued on my way. I felt very small. I shrunk into myself a little. What had I done to open up such a one sided dialogue of vulgarities? These are comments that I can imagine people might say to their buddies when no one else is around. But really to say them to my face and in front of what I later found out was this man’s wife was appalling.
I am writing this not for you to say “poor you” but because as the night wore on I started thinking of all the things I should have said. The silent permission I gave for not speaking up.
I am someone’s wife, someone’s mom. I am a daughter. I am a sister. Never once did that cross this person’s mind. How would I respond if someone spoke to my own daughter this way? Was it a lack of confidence? Was I afraid to make waves? Did I worry about my job? As hard as this is to admit a part of me didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable if I spoke up.
Weeks have passed and I have probably thought of this night a thousand times – all those coulda, shoulda, wouldas floating in my brain and out. I’ve been angry at myself for allowing myself to feel small. To silence a voice that was hurting and embarrassed and humiliated by another human being was wrong. I let myself down. I broke my own heart a little.
I try and find something positive in every situation. This situation is no exception. I recently whispered a promise to my soul – I will never again allow someone to make me feel so small. If standing up for myself makes someone else uncomfortable I will not apologize. I’ve learned that being brave doesn’t always come naturally or at the most convenient times. Sometimes being brave comes much later, when you had some time to process your own shortcomings. I am not always perfect in my quest to live a full, self accepting life. On occasion I have to step backward to leap forward. The key is to keep leaping forward. And that my friends is all we can keep doing….