A Note to Self : Are You Talking to Me?

As a restaurant hostess, I talk to hundreds of people a day. Some interactions are short "How many people are in your party" some more immediate "welcome back! how was visiting your daughter?". No matter the intimacy, I try to assure them that the hungry, cranky, bitter-cold part of their day has ended. Because at the root of every request, simple or ridiculous, is the need to feel special, and cared for. 

A Note to Self
But, the person I talk to most in a day is ... me.  And, the voice I use to talk to myself is a transformation worthy of the exorcist. I scoff and roll my eyes, mutter under my breath about my laziness and obvious mistakes. Sometimes, it's an all day filibuster on my ineptitude.

My mind is quite clever actually, and it convincingly takes the voice of critical coworkers or disappointed customers until I can no longer disagree with the general consensus.

I don't know why I do it. I would never treat another person with the kind of indiscriminate nastiness that I reserve only for myself. I excuse my coworkers for having an off-day, They're having a hard week, and their mistakes. (Hell, sometimes I even blame their problems on myself.) Because they're human, where there is plenty of room for the occasional broken wine glass.
But I judge myself on the super-human scale of some perfect me, a cross between Joan Didion and June Cleaver. And soon my failure to seat a table becomes my failure as a restaurant hostess and my failure as a person. It sounds extreme, but on some nagging subconscious level, it's true.

Early on in my customer service career, at the end of a long night, I was uncharacteristically unreceptive to a request that I deemed unreasonable.  So you can imagine my embarrassment when, without the safety of my uniform and list of reservations, I saw them in my neighborhood.

I was forced to confront, not the working nature of our interaction, but their humanity. And, I swore I will never again treat a person with so little tenderness. I should make the same promise facing myself in the mirror every morning.


  1. I totally know what you mean about one little failure making you feel like a failure as a person!

    This was quite an insightful post.

  2. all of your posts are so insightful sam. you always make me stop and think about my own life, which is what i love about your blog. don't be so tough on yourself...i'll be telling myself the same thing too :).

    P.S. i e-mailed you back...just wanted to make sure you got it. craig and i are in :).

  3. lauren and kate : thanks for helping my 'insight' become 'out-sight', and be more than just a mantra for myself!

    Does anyone have a particularly positive phrase that they tell themselves?

  4. "With a compassionate heart and wild spirit I celebrate ME!" Ha, that's my affirmation that I got from a women's studies weekend course. I love it!

  5. The most important thing is that you realize this! Which is the start to a positive change.

    "at the root of every request, simple or ridiculous, is the need to feel special, and cared for"... this applies to countless situations. Thank you for the reminder.


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