I got my first job when I was sixteen. Although I was proud that I had a job, I simultaneously felt pangs of shame due to the fact that it was a tiny, questionably run, fairly gross burger joint about ten minutes from my house. Although the money sucked, I enjoyed the experience and the people I worked with. I figured out that as long as I didn’t take myself or anyone else too seriously, I could find something to laugh about almost every day. Usually behind peoples’ backs, but hey, sometimes you just gotta laugh.
When I first started working at Andy’s, I was pretty much the same as I am now: quiet in public and secretly hilarious (Right guys? Right? Okay whatever, nevermind). If you know me in person, you might know that I tend to be on the shyer, awkwarder side of the social spectrum. Now imagine those character traits, but like, on steroids. I wasn’t on steroids, in case you got the wrong idea, just my, ya know…you get the picture.
Anyway, so I was pretty timid at sixteen, at least at work. One of my first shifts, we got unexpectedly busy over the dinner hour. I was sweaty and stressed out, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I remember an older couple sitting in the middle of the restaurant while I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I told them I’d be right with them to get their drinks, and let’s just say it took a while. I could tell they were getting frustrated. Finally I returned to grab their food order.
“I’d like to get a cheeseburger with ketchup and mushrooms,” the man said.
“I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” I asked. Mushrooms didn’t usually come on our burgers, so I wanted to make sure I got it right.
“I’d like to get a cheeseburger with ketchup and mushrooms,” he said again. I finally decided that it must be a thing, and that it actually sounded pretty good.
When their food went out, I came over to check on them. The guy was sitting there holding up the top part of his bun like he’d just opened a can of worms or something. He looked at me incredulously and said, “this burger has mushrooms on it.”
“Isn’t that you wanted?” I asked, starting to blush profusely.
“I said mustard,” he said, practically yelling.
“Oh,” I replied, startled and no doubt turning a lovely but unhealthy shade of magenta.
I had the burger fixed, and that, y’all, is how I learned to repeat orders back. I mean, I can hardly blame the guy for getting a little upset. He was probably thinking, “this girl is sweaty and stressed out, and doesn’t really know what she’s doing.” Which, as we have discussed, was the case.
In my defense, I’m pretty sure he just talked weird. The next two times he came back I just decided that when he said “mushrooms” he was actually saying “mustard.” I comforted myself with the knowledge that he just didn’t know how to say words.
A few weeks ago I ran some food out for another server’s table at the sports bar where I was working. The man at the table looked familiar, so I walked past a few more times.
“Hey,” I said.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” I said. “Did you used to go to the Andy’s in Louisburg?”
“Yeah, I did!” – I could tell he was trying to remember who I was. I told him that I used to work there, and we exchanged pleasant chit chat. He chitted, I chatted, he chatted, I chitted – we took turns. I asked him if he remembered how I thought he wanted mushrooms instead of mustard. He did remember. We laughed heartily about it, and then we parted ways the best of buds. Turns out he was a pretty cool dude, even if he was a little upset that his burger came out with mushrooms.
I mean, I’d probably be a little upset too if I had a speech impediment.