I remember the days, the good ol’ days of Max and Erma’s at MacArthur Mall in Norfolk back around the time I dropped out of ODU (couldn’t afford text books or even life supplies, hard times!). Riding the sketchy HRT for four years before getting a car to my job that felt thankless and many days, not worth coming in for. I will never forget standing in the ice and snow for the bus, getting on, walking from the Norfolk Scope (where the bus stop used to be) all way down to MacArthur..coming in, and making $0 because no one came in to eat that morning shift.
There were endless mall employees that didn’t tip, people always trying to get food for free and there were days I came in just to make enough money to park in the garage once I FINALLY could afford a car. It was hard. It put a lot of negativity in my heart toward waiting tables and consequently made me think, this isn’t a life..waiting tables can NOT be how I want to spend my life because if it’s like this, it’s definitely not worth it!
I am wrong about that. It’s not about waiting tables, it’s where I was waiting tables and the fact that it wasn’t a fit for me, personally. It was my negative perspective. It’s not about the job..it’s about where, the timing, the pay, the dynamic. It didn’t fit me, so I assumed it was a horrible and thankless profession for anyone. I feel bad about that. I just had such horrible memories and hard times while there..can I just mention the crazy guy who would enter from Granby street, sit and watch us and our tables and steal our cash tips from them?! I’m not kidding! HAHAHA! Wait, I am busting out laughing now.. because in retrospect it was really funny to see him hauling ass out the door and running from the cops once we recognized him and were on to him…ohhhh my gosh, the good ol Max and Erma’s days!
But they weren’t all horrible. I met some of the most incredible people of my life there. I met girls that would later be my bridesmaids, who’s weddings I would shoot who I love and adore and admire more than anything in the world. I met people who would still be connected to me to do this day, who I would refer business to and vice versa. I met people who changed my life. When I went to Bubba’s on Shore Drive to wait tables, I would meet people that also changed my life and I would shoot the weddings of.
I remember standing on that top deck next to the beautiful water, serving those jimmies and looking over at the Lesner praying I would be that photographer some day…and years later one of my weddings from the Lesner is plastered on the Today Show website between Joan River’s death and Carrie Underwood’s pregnancy.
I wouldn’t have been the wedding photographer I am today WITHOUT learning true hustle from bartending and waiting tables. There is no hustle like it, and it’s why I can shoot SUPER fast now, and under pressure. Five tables need fives things in five minutes..and a wedding is like that. You have 10 minutes to shoot 12 different family poses and setups..and it’s a mad house, GO! I learned some of the most amazing lessons of my life from waiting tables.
Here’s where my heart is this morning with this blog post.
It doesn’t matter what someone does for a living. We’re all trying to make money to pay our bills and live our lives. Some people say that waiting tables is terrible, and it can be..but some people truly love it or they’ve just gotten into such a great flow with it that it works for them. They can hustle and make LOTS of money doing it! We have to stop judging jobs and saying “you need to get out of being a trash guy or waiting tables or working in retail” etc..because that works for some people and it works well. My cousin last summer said something about a guy working at a sandwich shop here in the Outer Banks and how some people would say “gosh that sucks” but this guy could have been the happiest guy in the world just to be able to live here, regardless of his job.
Have you ever walked into a job where people are usually a little impersonal and quiet or grumpy and had them treat you really, really well? Checkout person at a grocery store, fast food, pizza delivery or maybe retail..and just wonder to yourself, wow, why were they so nice? Some people are okay with jobs that “most” people would generally dislike. It all depends on their place in life and their attitude..and some of the happiest people in the world have the dirtiest and hardest jobs, if you’ve learned anything from Mike Rowe 🙂
I’m not saying you should get a job, and never dream bigger. But here’s the thing, some people’s dreams don’t involve careers. There is a horrible stigma that says going to college and getting a job that pays X amount is the right and ONLY thing to do and that’s just not true. Not everyone has a dream career in mind! Some people ARE happy just working to make money and then they go home to whatever their definition of happiness is…maybe it’s living at a beach, reading, just being with family, or other hobbies that they don’t desire turning into a career.
I hope you find something that makes you happy and supports a life for you and your family, and it doesn’t matter what it is. Don’t ever feel ashamed to say “this is what I do” — because just the fact that you ARE DOING IT, you are working hard..that’s all that matters. No one is “just” a salesperson, “just” a waitress, “just” an anything. They are a person working hard. Happy Monday from Kitty Hawk NC! XOXOXO