Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm busy this week with a fundraising event I help to coordinate every fall and spring. Taking a break from regular work even if it's not a real vacation always helps center me and remind me why I do what I do. 

The events--chaotic as they are because they involve youth and food--have built into a sort of liturgical calendar year of stress and success, a practice of giving up me for chaotic, messy, busy, joyful days that are all about service. 

I teach teens to make and serve espresso drinks and food. I help them learn to watch for empty containers, messy tables, old ladies with trays too heavy. I make it a practice to walk around the building and see if any vendors look especially tired or down and bring them a free cup of coffee. I delegate students to do this every now and then, too, and they look at me, surprised, and then smile as they get it, that success isn't only about sales.

I get annoyed at the student who made up the sinks wrong or forgets to wear gloves or over-rings the cash register by double-digits, too.

This world is small, but I know the students walk away feeling good about what they have gained, and most of the people we serve walk away with a good meal at a good price.* My three-day world of hands-on service. It does me good. 

And I'm leaving this here as a reminder so that on Saturday evening, feet aching, I'll come and remind myself of that very fact.

*one of the most valuable things I have learned by doing this is that it's really true that you can't please everybody. Someone WILL complain about the salad dressing or coffee. Last spring I had one woman insist that our coffee brewer wasn't drip coffee, could not be drip coffee, we had given her something strange and bitter. I brewed a new pot and she pointed at it as it was dripping through the filter. "see there? that is not reg'lar old coffee." she insisted. She wanted no money back. She wanted no replacement. She wanted plain old reg'lar coffee. At my wits end, I walked back to the breakroom in the building where the event planners left a percolator of lukewarm coffee going for the workers and poured a cup and brought it out to her. She still insisted that I was somehow purposely giving her something different from reg'lar coffee. I never did find out what she wanted.   For some people, you never will.


Cari-Jane Hakes said...

Your disgruntled coffee drinker made me giggle. Perhaps she was sent as a 'test'...sounds like you passed with flying colours! She was served, you gave her an alternative, you didn't dismiss her.

jana.kaye said...

It makes me laugh, too! It's like a nonsense question, "How tall is yellow?"

The funny thing is that she was back this time and drank the coffee happily all three days! I don't know what was wrong last time!