If you’ll indulge me, I have quite a story to share. It’s about life and what we want from life. It’s about what we find important, what we really value, and what we’ll do without in order to get it.
My wife is a waitress this summer. The other day at work, she had a table that was particularly annoying. The moment they walked in, a man in the party did something so bizarre, so shocking, it defies belief. Because it’s the punch line of the story, I’m going to save it till the end. So you’ll have to read the whole post (or just skip to the bottom) to find out what happened…
Now my wife is very slow to get angry. It’s almost annoying how nice, tolerant, and mild mannered she is! But even she has her limits, and they were met and exceeded with this table.
To set the scene, it was a table with an older couple. They quickly became frustrated with the menu. They were trying to order the senior special, but complaining endlessly that the options weren’t comparable to the full menu. Perhaps they had a point. In offering an unequal menu for the seniors, perhaps society was unappreciative of their great contributions. The senior meals come with fries, which separately cost $2.50. Yet they could substitute only one order of vegetables, worth a mere $0.75. “Why the discrepancy?,” the gentlemen wanted to know. Indeed, a great injustice may have been occurring.
But an injustice at my wife’s hands it was not. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that she serves the food rather than makes the menu, they bitterly complained. My poor wife had to finally throw down the gauntlet. “I’m really sorry that your upset, but I don’t make the menu and have no control over these decisions. You can order a regular meal and get what you want, or the senior meal for the reduced price.”
Once the food was out of the way, the real point of contention surfaced. They asked friendly enough personal questions — Where are you from? What are you doing? Oh you’re married? What’s you husband doing? — etc. Friendly enough, that is, until they bluntly decided to share what they thought of our plans…
My wife wants to be an elementary teacher and I a college professor. “Are you independently wealthy?” the women asked with an incredulous scowl upon her face. “How do you expect to pay for any of this?”
My wife tried explaining that since you spend most of your adult life at work, we felt it was important to pursue things we were passionate about. That when the day was done and our lives were lived, we would be far happier with a job we cared about than a job we didn’t but which paid us more. This seemed to be lost on them, and they continued insulting her for being so stupid as to help support a husband in grad school. With the excuse of “other customers” my wife walked off, a wee bit ticked off.
So, what’s the surprise waiting for you at the end of the post? The punch line of it all? Well get this. When they walked in, the man had a tape measure. He required at least 14 inches in between the booth and the table to accommodate his stomach. His wife also required the same. And he measured to ensure that he had it.
Yes indeed. When times are tough, and I reflect on the decisions I’ve made in life and the endeavors I’ve decided to pursue, I’ll surely think back to this guy and his wife, squabbling over a few cents on a senior meal, and measuring their booths to make room for their stomachs. And I’ll reflect on the life I never had.
Something tells me I won’t miss it very much.