The silver chrome that runs along the bottom of the milkshake glass rack reflects my harried expression. If I stand on my tiptoes, I can see my nose and lips. If I crouch down, I can see my hairline. If I stand straight, I can see my brown eyes looking back at me.
With this one look, I am allowed a second to check that my hair is in place and my mascara hasn’t run under my eyes. One look gives me a glimpse of the frustrated, happy, annoyed, stressed, relaxed people waiting to be seated or checked out behind me. One look reminds me that I am a person who deserves to be treated with respect and kindness, not a server without a name.
That last sentence may seem obvious. But in the heat of rush hour, it can be easy to forget—and even easier for the people you’re serving to forget.
For example, it doesn’t take long to make a milkshake. My fastest time has probably been under two minutes, from reaching for the ice cream scoop to delivering the glass or to-go cup. But you’d be surprised how impatient and rude people can get while waiting for one, or how quickly the orders can stack up.
Many SHU students may guess that I came up with the idea for this editorial while working at JP’s, the only diner on campus. It is arguably one of the busiest dining halls at SHU, but it’s also one of my favorite places on campus. I go there for the food, but also to meet up with friends, do homework and be a server.
Unlike nearly everyone who works with me at JP’s, my favorite task is making milkshakes. You want me to stop running tables and stay behind the counter at the milkshake station? You want me to be surrounded by ice cream, milk and whipped cream for an hour or two instead of punching orders into the glitchy POS system? I’d jump for joy if I could, but that’s a safety hazard.
I won’t deny that making milkshakes is a messy business. But if there’s one thing the people at JP’s have taught me over the past three years, it’s that we should embrace the mess.
This year is my final one at Sacred Heart. I may even be able to graduate early, in which case this would be my final semester. But that doesn’t scare me. In fact, I’m eager to get out into the world and leave the homework behind. Being an English major has taught me many things, including how to write and read better, how to speak up for myself and how to take advantage of every writing opportunity thrown my way. At the end of the day, however, I’ve learned the most outside of the classroom, through meeting my friends, talking casually with my professors, studying and living in Paris for a semester—and even working at JP’s.
And what have I learned outside the classroom? How to be street smart. How to both respect others and understand that I deserve the same respect. Even how to deal with impatient customers.
And yes, making milkshakes is a messy business. But life is messy, and I’ve learned—and am still learning—how to embrace the mess, and I look forward to what comes next.