I’ve been waitressing for not quite a year. When I first started, I set efficiency as one of my goals. Not only did I hope that this quality—which I lack—would earn me better tips, but also that it would trickle down and (re)order the rest of my life just in time for grad school. Over the past few months, I’ve learned how to run five, sometimes seven, tables at once. Now, on my good days, I can deliver food, drop off bills, check on my customers and grab cups for refills all in one trip to the dining floor. I’ve learned how to make every move meaningful and productive.
This newly learned skill, however, evaporates when I clock out. Like a superpower, my efficiency only manifests when I don my apron. People more organized and logical than I notice. For example, when my dad—an architect—comes home from work and finds me mowing the lawn, he thanks and subsequently advises me to start on the far side and then make my roaring way towards the compost pile, rather than stopping in the middle of any random sweep to haul the grass clippings halfway across the yard. What can I say? It had never occurred to me that there might be a better strategy than starting with the biggest, greenest expanse. Plus, I was trying to write this blog post instead of thinking about what I was actually doing.
Even I notice my inefficiency. I’ve been writing this post longhand despite the fact that the clock is ticking and that eventually I’ll have to type it out. Instead of being on intimate terms with the backspace key—my usual writing method—I scribble, fill the margins, and use enough arrows to spin my note pad in every direction. It wouldn’t work any other way. This month, this post needed the pen, the paper, and the scrawl.
At work, I get things done. When I return home, however, it seems as if everything slows down. If I’m doing yard work, my mom often calls me in to take a break. We have coffee, get sidetracked, and realize it’s time for lunch. Usually I don’t go back to weeding the creeping charlie out of the raspberry bushes (or whatever I was doing) until the next day. It’s wonderful, but the following morning I wish I had stayed in the raspberries.
There’s always so much to do, and it’s endless. There are books to read and bathrooms to clean and forgotten treasures to sort through because I’m moving come August. I begin to wish I were more Martha than Mary.
To reduce our carbon footprint, and to enjoy the summer day, my mom—who is so perfectly Mary—and I biked to the grocery store this week. We took a longer route to avoid the busier streets, looked for ducks in the creek, chatted, and went slowly. On the way back, my basket began to fail under the weight of the bananas, yogurt, and pasta. By the time we had returned home, the morning was spent. But the sun had been shining, and there were poppies along the prairie path.
Sabrina Lee majored in English and French and graduated from Calvin College in 2013. After a couple of gap years, she’s back in school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a MA/PhD in English.You can usually find her reading and drinking tea—and, once in a while, ballroom dancing.