I sat in my car tonight, aching, tired, and feeling rather noir -- if not for the chinese takeout style box of grape nuts and blueberries in my lap. Today was one of those days that people talk about when they refer to "one of those days". You nod, because you know. You've had them. Today, I did.
I say that, but by most tangible metrics, today was a good day. I made 13$ in cash tips, more in change. I had some pleasant conversation, appreciative customers, and managed to get everything done in an efficient manner.
There is a list there, but as I think on it, only one part of it really stands out: appreciative customers. As I sat in my car, felt my feet throb, wanting nothing more than to creek my head to the side and fall asleep, it was not the sense of accomplishment, and not even the money, that provided me with a sense of contentment. It was the thinking back to smiling faces, to thanks received, to orders made well that gave me solace.
So this is not revelatory advice, I know, but then I never claimed to possess new wisdom. But perhaps this old wisdom will do well enough: Be nice. It makes people's day. The opposite is true as well, of course. The kid on the other side of the bar, or cleaning your table, ringing up your groceries, whatever, has a life, concerns, etc. There's a pretty good chance he doesn't like his job much; although I do like mine, so there is certainly that.
In any case, this day was, at its end, satisfying, only because people smiled at me and told me I did well, that their drinks tasted good, and that they hoped I would have a good night. The small gestures add up. And as much as I love coffee, I love people loving coffee (or whatever they got) even more.