(This is very late and I’m Sorry)
Greetings and Salutations on this lovely Fuck-Me-Up Friday.
This week I have a story with a message attached to it.
Here we go.
So I’m working at Panera Bread which is one of my two current jobs. I started my shift at 11:30 and I was there until 7. In comparison to the past few weeks, that’s an hour or two longer than what I am normally scheduled for. Also I am normally put in the drive thru but today I was on front register (which I prefer anyway) and stayed there for my shift.
Now I always liked front register. Many employees hated it because they had to deal with customers face to face and admittedly Panera customers are primarily upper middle class retired couples who feel entitled to everything along with thinking they are getting ‘fancy fast food’ by going to Panera.
Fast food is fast food, live with it, anyway…
Front register was always easy. I just had to fake a smile, kill the assholes with kindness and do my best to not screw up an order. That’s mainly it, the key is… be nice. I hate sounding like a braggadocios individual but I consider myself a nice person. Especially with customers. To me its simple to force a smile and sound polite. On top of that, certain situations with a customer will make me drop my fake nice and let my genuine kindness come out.
My parents have raised me to be nice, and by the end of this story my goal is to add another reason to why everyone should be nice to other people no matter what.
Near the end of my shift, around 5:30-6:00, my friend visits me unexpectedly. While her mother waits for the food, I don’t have anymore customers so I chat and catch up with my friend. After a couple minutes go by a woman approaches the front register. I tell my friend I’ll see them later, and I ask the woman if she is ready and she starts ordering.
She begins getting her food and I have to begin my interrogation-like platter of questions about their order. Drink? 99 cent pastry? do they have a MyPanera card? Half-size Whole Size?
As I’m going through the questions she answers them with no issue and to me she seemed like a totally normal customer. After she answers one of my questions she breaks the flow and says.
“Sorry for the bad mood, I’m not having the best day ever right now.”
When people mention something like this, I break the robotic nice barrier and try to level with them.
“I totally get it, we’ve all been there, we’ve all had those days.” I say.
I keep going through the questions and she gets a chocolate chip cookie with her meal. Now, she seemed totally nice, she didn’t seem to be in a bad mood at all and caused me no problems.
This is where my morals and company policy begin to fog a little. When I see suitable reason to give a free pastry to someone, I do so. That of course isn’t entirely what’s allowed. Someone kindy apologizing for an attitude I didn’t even notice and to say she was having a bad day? Seems suitable to me at the time. So after she pays I lean in a little bit.
“Do you want me to get you another cookie, on me?”
She looks confused. She’s perplexed as to why I’d do something I’m not supposed to for her.
“What? You serious?” she says.
“Well I mean you said you were having a bad day so, thought I might as well try to help you out.” I replied.
Her face begins to loosen as she pieces together it’s just because I’m trying to be nice to her. She begins thanking me and she starts to seem a little too happy about this. She’s smiling and repeatedly saying thank you.
Then she shakes my hand and asks for my name. I’m thinking, ‘Uhm okay, it”s just a cookie’. She’s saying things like ‘you have no idea how much…’ and ‘that’s so kind of you’
But then she leans in to me and very quietly and plainly tells me something.
“I have cancer.” She says.
I freeze for a moment. To start, I’ve never been good at comforting someone and I’m naturally awkward in moments like this. I say a basic involuntary response to bad news.
“Oh my God I’m so sorry.” I say, I look back and think that probably wasn’t the best response to have. But that isn’t the point.
Obviously none of you reading this saw her face but it looked so happy when I offered the extra cookie. This little act made her smile and be happy in the face of tragic news that she probably received that day. (Our Panera is across from a hospital)
The point is people don’t properly realize that every person is their own individual with their own life. We have no idea what could be going on through other people’s minds and lives. There’s no reason we should be mean to one another. There’s nothing stopping us from being the nicest version of ourselves that we can be. One day a situation like this will come to us all and we all have to chance to make someone’s day or even just be able to make them smile.
Think back to a time someone did something nice for you… remember how you felt?
Exactly. Now make someone else feel that way.