A cute young guy who clearly struggles with some learning challenges has come in several times to apply for a job. Speaking under pressure is tough for him, and on these occassions he mostly has pointed upstairs and said, “I am here for a manager, for a job.”
I have felt kind of sorry for him. He is polite and earnest, but I figured he must be getting turned away every time, right?
Today he walked in and announced in his halting style, “It’s my first day. I am here for training. I need to see my manager.”
“Really! Welcome to your first day,” I told him, amazed and happy for him.
“I am supposed to be here at three, but I am early.” It was 2:30. “I will come back.”
“Sounds good.” And off he went.
Busboy? The manager he asked for hires bussers. Could he even remotely handle that job?
At five minutes ’till three, he came back. “Hi, I am back to see my manager.”
“Hi again,” I said. “What’s your name?”
I couldn’t understand what he said. But I then told him my name–not a very common name, and actually a nickname.
“My cousin has that name,” he said, faster and more clearly. “Her real name is Virginia, is that yours?”
“Nope,” I said, “But how cool your cousin and I have the same nickname.” He answered with a smile and headed upstairs to find “his” manager.
Later, when I got off, I walked back to a closed dining area to change from my party shoes into running shoes to head home. I saw the new hire–now dressed in a busser’s uniform–in another booth with the manager he’d been waiting for. He was intent on folding a napkin, really working hard at it.
“That’s right,” coaxed the manager in a patient tone I’d rarely heard from him. “Line up the ends. Keep it even. Fold it straight.” The new hire was doing it, not perfectly, but trying.
I tied my shoes and checked back at the podium one last time. Up walked the manager who’d been working with the new hire.
“Hey,” I said. “That new kid seems really sweet. Is he going to be a busser?”
“Oh, no, not a busser. He’s a son of a friend. He’s just going to be folding napkins for us.”
Yeah, that made sense.
Folding napkins–something the other bussers do while they tease each other about partying and girlfriends. This kid won’t be a part of that–ever.
But he will come to work on time, proud to have this job, and will always work incredibly hard to keep it even and fold it straight.