Three Life Lessons From: My first job

When I graduated from school, I had no clue what my occupation would be. I spent six months applying to 30+ jobs in software before getting one interview.

While I was applying, I worked part time as a waiter at a local restaurant. I learned some valuable things there:

1. A transaction is an exchange of value, but value comes in many forms. In a restaurant, a customer pays for more than food. They pay to relax. They pay to choose what they want. Or, they pay to not need to choose. They pay to feel empowered. This lesson is important because I am now more open-minded about why people pay for things. People don’t just pay for a widget. They get value from how that widget makes them feel.

2. Empathy leads to a glass half full perspective. Opening my first wine bottle at a table was the most nerve-wracking thing ever. My hands shook as I spilled wine on the table. Another time, I tripped while walking a tray of water glasses out to the patio. The whole thing drenched a man with his kids. But in both cases, instead of responding with anger, the customers gave empathy. They were patient and understanding. They didn’t dig their nails into the obvious mistake I had made. I actually ended up having nicer, longer conversations with them. On the other hand, there were other customers who found any tiny thing about which to complain. They treated me like a servant to deliver their messages to the kitchen and get some free meals. These people went in with negativity and dragged everyone through the mud to fill their agenda. These people were simply forgettable.

3. The boss sets the tone in a business. The general manager dictated the sentiment of the employees. When he cracked open a bottle of scotch to celebrate after a busy Saturday, the mood was high. When he snapped at waiters for their mistakes, everyone else got tense and bickered at each other. The engine driving us to work came from the culture we shared. This culture came from mostly the tone of the boss.

In the end, restaurant work was not for me. I ended up working at another restaurant part time a few years later, which took my learnings to a whole different level.

10 minutes.

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

It’s been a few weeks since I posted. I was planning a post about finding the right activity to fill 10 minutes of spare time in between activities, work, etc. 10 minutes is too short to dive into a deep activity, but too long to sit there and wait for the next one. How fascinating: trying to fill the time? You know you should read or meditate or walk but typically you just browse Instagram or Youtube or some other mindless filler. What a predicament.

On September 2nd, 2020, my grandmother died unexpectedly. We were close. It’s been a rough time for my family, but we’re doing ok. Nanita was 80 years strong. We just expected more time from her because she was so energetic, compassionate, and generous with her love. It was too soon. There are too many unanswered questions.

She was living alone and finally called for an ambulance after being in pain for days without eating. 10 minutes after arriving to the hospital, she had her first heart attack. They induced her into a coma. The next day, she suffered her second heart attack and last breaths. Officially, she died of sepsis and colitis.

Fuck. She had 10 minutes from arriving to the hospital until her first heart attack, putting her out of consciousness and into a coma from which she never woke.

So, if you had 10 minutes, what would you do?

This is a tough one for me, because I’m notoriously long-sighted. I’m a firm believer in living like you would live forever, until you don’t. It’s a balance between life and death.

When I imagine dying, I imagine two scenarios. One, I get killed instantly in some horrifying accident; or I get so destructively maimed that I’m a goner for sure. Second, I get cancer and realize I have a limited time on earth: but in months or years or weeks.

But… fuck, 10 minutes?

What if someone said you would die in 10 minutes? What a brutal amount of time. I could only hope to be so strong as to handle that news.

I would freak the fuck out for a while. Then I hope I would settle myself:

In minute 5, I would thank my family and friends for being so unconditionally loving.

Copy that for minute 6.

In minute 7, I would reflect on my experiences in life that really mattered. Those crazy, mind-blowing things. The things that made me breathe deep breaths. The things that reminded me how real I am.

In minute 8, I would thank God for giving me the opportunity to live a life as someone so fortunate and lucky with so much love.

In the 9th and last minute, I would embrace the pain and impending darkness head-on. I would do my best to push for my next state of being with hope, falling into chaos