Breakfast at Sympathies

While working a painful breakfast rust this past Sunday, I encountered a type of customer that I didn’t know how to handle. It was the customer who pitied me.

We were very busy, and understaffed. One woman waited for a long time just for me to take her order. When she stepped up to the register, she gave me an apologetic smile. She opened her mouth to say what she wanted, but instead said something else.

“I’m very sorry for how your life is going.”

I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t sure if she was sorry for this exact moment, or the last 5 minutes, or this day. But it sounded like she was sorry that I had this job, and this life.

In each customer’s eyes that morning I saw either frustration or an apologetic glance. I know now that I would rather stand in front of 50 angry customers than 5 that feel sorry for me.

It’s upsetting that customers would observe me for a very short time and assume I don’t like my job (or my life–I have a great life!). Especially when I remain calm and composed, with a smile on my face. If I started throwing stuff and emptying whipped cream canisters in customers’ faces, maybe it would be safe to assume the job isn’t the right fit.

They simply assume I dislike working at McDonald’s because they, personally, would not be willing to try it (most people wouldn’t). McDonald’s is always labeled as an “undesirable” job that people take on the path to something “better.” But I feel like I’ve already been on a path and it led me here.

This is something that I chose, and something that I’m proud of, because I love the work. I’m not stuck here, and I’m not being forced to do anything. It just so happens that loving my job means occasionally dealing with days like this. Like any job in America, this isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

I think the bottom line is this: respect what other people do. Let the worker decide whether or not the work is enjoyable.

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