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Gratitude in Soy Sauce

Going into my senior year of high school, I needed a job. My best friend was a hostess at the new Chinese restaurant that opened, and I thought, “How fun would that be to work together?” The language barrier was real and apparent from the moment I spoke to the manager, but I was hired and every weekend we spent time behind the front desk taking orders, packing sushi and stealing Andes mints from the wait station.

It wasn’t a hard job at all, and I caught onto the computer system really quickly. It was fun to play around and make up orders for people when it was slow. Eventually I started to loathe giving up my evenings after hours of dance rehearsals and was having serious FOMO about my senior year. When my last day came, I peaced out with my head held high, thinking I was above that place and thank God I was moving 750 miles away and would never stand behind that desk again.

But I got a text that first month back from Elon asking if there was any way I could help out, because the hostess went on vacation for a week and there just wasn’t anyone on staff who could handle the weekends by themselves just yet.

I took the offer ironically. I’d go back, make a few hundred dollars, and carry on with my summer. I walked in and something, as silly as it sounds, clicked. I grabbed menus, started washing tables, refilled the straws. My manager asked me to check on something at the bar, and I froze a little because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I knew what he wanted, but wasn’t sure I remembered how to. Staring at the bar, I was drawn down to the side near the tables. Looking into the small space while the bottles and sauces and utensils stared back at me, it suddenly clicked again. I knew what I was doing here. I knew the ins and outs without a doubt. It came rushing back to me – the memories of getting ready for my first date in the bathroom, fooling around with my best friend on the phones, making Starbucks runs and all the plans I would run out to my car to attend after my shift ended. And as dumb as it is, I was good at this job, and someone was looking to me for things to run smoothly.

After a full year of a new school so far away, who would have known something as simple as remembering where to restock things to would make me feel fulfilled. My work at school is so amazing and fun, and everyday I am learning something new. I am growing as a person and student, and soaking in so many experiences, but it is rare that someone turns to me because I know exactly what to do and when.

So, thank you to the local Chinese restaurant for reminding me I am capable, I am competent, I am smart and I am reliable. I’ll take my 20% discount on spicy tuna rolls now.

Kayla is a senior journalism major from Boston, Massachusetts and has been with HCElon since her freshman year. At Elon, she is involved in The Edge Magazine, ENN and AOII. 
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