This Saturday Upsides post is my second exercise in finding the good — the upside — in a bad situation. For the first Joyous Paradox Saturday Upsides story, click here.
The Situation: My first summer job in high school, when I worked as a waitress at Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Chicago. On my very last day on the job, a kind-faced, matronly customer leaned forward and asked me, “Is this your first day, dear?”
The Downside: At the time, I was crushed. I had worked so hard to learn my trade that summer, distributing menus, filling water glasses, ladling gravy over a hot open-faced turkey sandwich and tucking a dollop of cranberry sauce neatly into its pleated paper cup.
The Upside: I’m not sure how old I was when I finally got over the shame of hearing my well-meaning customer’s question. Gradually, though, the story morphed from a tale of woe to a good-natured anecdote, useful for conversations with elders sharing rueful reminiscence. We’ve all been there, I think, in one way or another.
Oh, and one last thing: I found an old photograph online of Woolworth’s lunch counter in Chicago. It was taken in 1960, which is a couple of years before I worked there, and the customers are wearing heavy coats, so it must have been winter. The ham salad sandwich, I notice, costs 25 cents.
All the best,