Working as the takeout specialist at a characteristically busy Olive Garden cannot be an easy job. I worked for several years as a valet driver at the Seatac airport, and it pushed me to sanity’s limits, smiling courteously at people who are at their worst because they’ve been crapped on all day via flight delays, lost baggage, screaming children, and nearby fellow passengers with nose curling B.O. I suppose working takeout at Olive Garden is very much similar. Often, when people are ordering takeout, they’re on the tail-end of a crappy day, when the last thing they want to do is go home and cook. So, people who’ve had crappy days call the Olive Garden, and most nights, they’ll get Jacqui on the phone, and they’ll place their orders for exquisite, carb-laden delights – hoping, praying, begging for extra breadsticks – because the best way to recoup from a crappy day is to put yourself into a cheese and carb induced coma, doused with lots of butter.
There are those of us who find that the best way to boost ourselves at the end of a long day is to hear Jacqui’s fair weather voice on the speaker of an iPhone.
“Bongiorno! Thanks for calling the Olive Garden! This is Jacqui; how can I help you today?”
“Hi Jacqui, it’s Luke.”
“Luke! How are you today?”
“Oh, I hear ya…What can we get for you…”
Jacqui’s demeanor is not over the top, not forced; her friendliness is natural, because I believe that’s what she is at heart – a friend to people, and it can’t be easy when so many frequenters are starving more for personal attention and internal completeness than they are for a perfectly cooked rigatoni.
It’s been a rough year for Jacqui; she’s shared this with me, not in a complaining way, but in a way that a friend shares with a friend. She was faced with extended time off work due to medical issues, which inevitably lead to financial issues, and now she carries the burden of worrying about another surgery that’s been prescribed, which will lead to more work missed…Many of us are familiar with the cycle.
It takes a notable measure of strength to lay aside your personal worries and anxieties long enough to offer a friendly voice and a smile to another starving patron who may or may not think to say “hello” or “thank you” in exchange for your noble service. Jacqui does that – extends kindness in the face of frequent indifference. She’s a strong one, she is.
I hope those who read this will take a moment to think of Jacqui and whisper a prayer on her behalf. It looks to be another challenging year for her with more medical challenges, and I think it could do some good if she knows there are friends pulling for her.
Categories: Faces In The Sea