I don’t like to talk specifics about work. A girl can get into a lot of trouble by saying what she’s really thinking, which is the real reason I never list my work anywhere or really talk about it that much.
But today, I’m going to break my own rule, because there’s an important message I want to talk about, and that is, to just be grateful.
Let’s backtrack a little bit. Today, my workplace hosted a lovely event called Nueve De Mayo (we had a large meeting on the 5th, so we weren’t able to have Cinco de Mayo), and we celebrated by having a big potluck lunch. If you don’t know, a potluck is a gathering where each attendee brings a dish to share. The idea is that if one person brings a dish, it can feed many people, and in theory, there will be something for everyone.
For me, I was nervous about signing up. Firstly, I’m not very good at cooking, nor do I like it. Secondly, I really don’t have much money right now and every dollar counts. Asking me to buy food to prepare for other people may not seem like a big deal, but when you don’t have any money, its asking a lot.
On Friday, a woman from the office went around asking people what they were bringing. I couldn’t tell her I was feeling the pressure of my lack of money, so I told her I’d bring tuna casserole. It’s generally not too expensive for noodles, so I felt like it was pretty safe. Plus, my dad makes a killer tuna casserole and I knew he would love to help.
Well, Monday morning comes; the casserole is made, I’m exhausted from staying up late to make it at my parent’s house, I barely have my eyes open enough to drive to work. At this point, I’m pretty proud of myself. I know it’s a really good dish and I was glad I was able to participate and contribute to a positive working environment.
When lunch comes, I make my way to the tables where various plates are already laid out: some chips and salsa, some chicken, etc. I put my plate down and write the note, “Tuna Casserole. Needs microwaving,” so people would know it was cold and they just needed to microwave it if they wanted a piece. After I put it down and write my note, I sort of doddle around the area, not really doing much except trying to be invisible until everyone gets there.
I’m doing just this when I see a woman wander up to my plate to look at it. Then she says, quite loudly, “You have to microwave this?” Then, she looks at me, as if to say, “Can you believe someone brought something we have to microwave? How dare they not bring something hot and ready? Where did they buy this, Kentucky Fried Chicken? Are we Barbarians?”
I just looked at her and shrugged.
But to me, at least in that moment, all I could think was, “What, do you think I got up at 5:30 this morning to make a freaking casserole? You think I just woke up, starting chopping vegetables in my little apron, and made a freaking casserole?” I brushed it off at first, until more and more people started to have the same attitude, or worse, they’d put the food on their plate, not warm it up, then complain it wasn’t good and leave it there.
Well this is not the point, but I’m going to say it anyway: that casserole was delicious. I can attest that many Consumers of Casseroles Before have sung its praises on high. In fact, my best friend specially requests that dish as payment when he watches the house sometimes. That dish is bulletproof delicious. I spent my hard earned money and time making this, and honestly, it kind of sucked to see everyone behaving so ungratefully. I watched people throw away food and a dish I would have gladly taken every bite of, and the worst part is, they didn’t consider how much it took for me to make it happen.
The bottom line is: please be appreciative of everything that comes into your life, because there is someone, somewhere, who worked really hard to get it to you. This is especially important at work, not just at potluck, but anytime someone does anything. There is inner dialog all around you at anytime; when people say things, there is a reason they said something and not something else. Whenever someone fixes your computer, or asks you for help, or gives you their extra pen, you don’t know what that means to them. The IT guy could have pulled his back last night and struggled on the way to your desk, your manager could have 15 million things going on and needs your help with just one, you could be eating a casserole that someone bought with the money they didn’t have and into all hours of the night to fit it into their busy schedule; you just don’t know.
I spent a majority of lunch kind of bummed out, mostly because it was so good and I was disappointed that so many people were wasting a meal I could have stretched out over the week. After awhile, I let it go, but it’s still on my mind as I lay here tonight. I’ll never be perfect at remembering this either, but it’s a good place to start: to always appreciate people in life for what they do and who they are, because you will never know if it was hard for them to do it.