Random Rarebits 2

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Connecting the dots...

Was it Bill Gates who said, life is about connecting the dots?

Ooopss Belle of the Party said it was Steve Jobs. Eeeps sorry I got my facts wrong there. So, correction, it's Steve Jobs, not Bill Gates.

Irregardless of who said that, I believe he's right about that. When I look back at everything that happened in my life, my experiences were actually to prepare me for things that will come later in life, that would help me overcome.

When I was a student at San Jose State University in California, USA, I worked 40 hours a week, doing three part-time jobs to supplement my measly scholarship and to have some money for my travels. When I was a lot younger, I was a bundle of energy, passion and resilience. Although I'm not as young as I once were, I still am a bundle of energy, passion and resilience. My battery is still ever ready :)

Imagine this. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I would work at the faculty coffee house, which helped me got to know my lecturers better. I would say that was strategic job. Although I was just a cashier on Mondays and making sandwiches on Wednesdays, I developed good rapport with people who determined my grades in class :)

My classes were mostly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I would study and did my research in between classes and jobs. I would have a quick bite of sandwich or chips, read San Jose Mercury News and Spartan Daily and then study during my lunch breaks. That was a tight schedule, but somehow I managed it well, graduating with a CGPA of over 3.1!

On Friday evenings after my classes, I would work at the campus pub serving pizza, pasta and beer to both the faculty and the students. I would spend 6-8 hours waitressing - running around taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and cleaning the pub before closing. From my job, I made some friends and developed social skills. After finishing work, I walked two miles to get back to my apartment. I was fortunate that my campus provides police escort to walk me home safely. By the time I got home, it was already way past midnight and time for bed.

Most mornings I would spring out of bed, raring to go for the day. Some mornings I woke up thinking, omigod, do I have to work again today? Hehe...I still do that sometimes :) But when I thought about how hard work it was being a waitress and how I've come a long way to what I am today, I would get up and be raring to go again!

Some weekends were spent recuperating, sleeping in half the day. Some weekends were spent studying and doing research. Some weekends were spent socialising with the nine other Malaysians and a number of foreign friends whom i got to know from campus and at the pub. Some weekends were spent working at the campus stadium serving hotdogs, nachos, chips and beer to people watching football or fans watching rock concerts. Some weekends were spent working as a catering staff, serving faculty's guests, politicians and corporate figures. Some weekends were spent bumming around in my apartment watching cable TV.

I remember thinking how nice it would have been to be in the customer's shoes instead of being in a waitress' shoes. Omigod, my feet was killing me! Well, somedays. Now that I am in the customer's shoes, doing a lot of entertaining for my job, it's more like, "omigod, those good food are killing me!"

You know what I hated about being a waitress?

1...Those damned table numbers. I never did remember all of them. It took me weeks on the job to figure out how the numbering system works. In the first month, I managed to screw up one order because of it.

2...That stupid light blue t-shirt, navy blue baseball cap and navy blue apron my supervisors at the stadium made me wear. Memang tak cun langsung lah! Darn! Opportunities lost because there were many cute guys at the stadium...

3...Because I had tan from swimming almost everyday at the campus aquatic centre on my way home from class during spring and summer, I was being repeatedly mistaken for a Mexican by some customers. However, now that I'm back home in Malaysia, and I'm so fair skinned due to the lack of sunlight having worked in the ofice from sun up to sun down everyday, I've always been told I look Chinese or sometimes a Chinese Eurasian (hahaha they must be fooled by my blue contact lenses and blonde highlights that I used to have on me!).

But because I weren't in their shoes, I have learned a great lesson in humility that have stayed with me in life. Ah well, you can say these aren't strategic jobs, but I certainly did learn some good lessons and achieved a thing or two.

1...My biggest achievement of all: not dropping a single plate or drinking glass or piping-hot pizza or pasta on an angry customer or anywhere near.

2...I realised that a tip of a few dollars won't make you rich but it's still something to be happy about. Biggest tip I got was 20 bucks!

3...A hungry man is an angry man indeed. If an order is late or wrong, a customer can become an irritated curse-tomer. You're dealing with hungry people after all.

4...A sincere "thank you" from your customer or your boss makes your day!

5...I learned some Spanish words because some customers keep speaking Spanish to me.

6...I learned from the cook how to make good pasta!

7...I learned how to set a table for a formal dinner and what fork to use for what dish and in which order

8...No greater satisfaction than earning your own hard earned money!


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