The last time I remember working at a restaurant was 20 years ago during my college years, fresh out of high school where I worked for tips and had no financial worries whatsoever. Ah, those where the years! Fast forwarding time to today and facing a tough economy, I had to come to reality and look for any means to make ends meet since my inspection business came to a halt during the housing meltdown. Enter: Sunshine Diner, a country kitchen. My good friend who owns the diner asked me to help him for a day; the diner gets busy over the weekend and he was short on people. I didn’t hesitate a bit to say yes, because there was nothing immediate in the horizon for me and thought it would be a good opportunity to get some extra cash and work for a change. So there I was, a mature version of me going back to the restaurant business and wondering if I still got what it takes after two decades. Turns out I did!
Working at the diner for the first time was a wonderful experience. As I was getting a refreshment course, which felt more like a crash course on all the aspects of the diner, I was surprised to remember things after so many years. It felt like riding a bicycle; the things I learned were never forgotten and I pick up very quickly to my younger co-worker’s amazement. Memories from the old times came back to life and I started to apply them on the dining floor. My old style of serving the tables and taking orders came to me like second nature and I was in my element as if I never left. I did such a great job that I was “hired” permanently on the spot. Over time I have come to work both on the dining floor and helping in the kitchen. I learned that one becomes a “jack of all trades” when working at a restaurant so I helped anyone and everywhere to get the job done, taking care of the customer’s needs. I quickly became fond of dish-washing in which I found the activity a relaxing therapy, like gardening. I enjoyed the “dishwashing confessions” between co-workers talking about things or venting out frustrations about unruly customers. Yes, those kinds of customer still exist! The dining area has the peculiarities you will find in other places if you have a keen eye of recognizing them. There is the crooked table, the squeaky chair, the salt-pepper combo right along with the jelly and creamers. The folding of utensils in a particular way, the regular customers whom you get to know them by name and know what they like to eat and how. Odd requests such as one half biscuit, the type of eggs they like, chocolate milk with ice, ordering breakfast at 1:30 in the afternoon, all that part of the dining experience at Sunshine Diner.
I feel very grateful to be given the opportunity to do humbling work and very satisfied when I leave the place knowing that the day was worth my efforts. I know that things will turn around for my business but in the meantime you will find me at the dining where I will greet you and take your order with a smile.