The Duties of Another Bozo on the Bus.



A Stoic Service Industry Professional

Okidoki, today’s work shift went fairly smooth, mind you I’ve been sick with a cold since Friday. My head was (and still is) congested with mucus, but my reasoning faculty was not. Pushing through to do the right thing, where one is able, despite the hampering of bodily ills, is a virtuous thing for the Stoic. In my case, should I have gone to work knowing that I could potentially
spread the bug to other employee’s? Ehhhh… I need the money I thought to myself as I resolved to push through. “ACHEWW!” Juuuust kidding. 😉

I was scheduled to open at 10 am. I arrived and started setting up with the bartender and noticed that our other opener hadn’t arrived yet. This meant more work for us! Yay! The bartender began complaining about christmas decorations left unfinished in the restaurant and attempted to engage me regarding the matter, stressing about this and that. “Aha!”, I thought to myself, “this is an opportunity to exercise Stoic principles!” So Instead of adding momentum to the weight of her woeful impressions, I looked at her, took a deep breath and emanated an air of striving with her, so to push through and get the necessary task done. I am a part of a service team here, and I am to fulfill that role to the best of my ability. Dutifully fulfilling my role as citizen of the universe…. as a Server. 🙂 The other opener eventually showed up, by the way, which was a relief. 😉

As the shift went on, I noticed co-workers gossiping about other employees, and found myself curious to the content of the gossip, but then caught myself and thought, “What would Epictetus do?” (A question/practice of holding oneself accountable as if a wise sage or someone you greatly admire is observing your actions, that Seneca mentions in his Letters.) So, I remembered the Enchiridion: “Let silence be your goal for the most part; say only what is necessary, and be brief about it. On the rare occasions when you’re called upon to speak, then speak, but never about banalities like gladiators, horses, sports, food and drink – common-place stuff. Above all don’t gossip about people, praising, blaming or comparing them.” (Enchiridion 33.2)

Another thing I’ve found challenging about working at this particular location downtown, is that when I see a well dressed young business woman  with red hair walking by the front of the restaurant, I am tempted to be pulled away by the appetites of sexual passion. Pretty extreme right? Not really. I am a 31 year old man, still somewhat in early recovery from drugs and alcohol, my desires to feel good, alter my mood, escape difficulties, and numb stress, haven’t yet been fully eradicated, NOT YET! I Keep in mind,  though, that I am not trying to squash my libido here, but I am trying to catch myself (STOIC MINDFULNESS)when I am taken away by the beauty of a lady, check my motives, and ask myself, would it really be the wisest thing to do, to go outside and strike up a casual conversation with her, inviting her in for a lunch entree, on me? Would it? A good Stoic wouldn’t assent to that. I’m not condoning passing up life’s opportunities by any m
eans, but, I’m finding, with this specifically,  to exercise, as Epictetus points out in Chapter 10 of the Enchiridion, SELF-RESTRAINT!  Marcus Aurelius touches on this similarly, in his Meditations: “…One man prays:’How can I sleep with that woman?’ Your prayer should be, ‘How can I lose the desire to sleep with her?’

During the peak of the lunch shift, I found myself in the flow so many restaurant people can relate to. When you’re in this automatic zone of taking orders, multitasking, walking, dodging, smiling, connecting with guests, etc. – It’s the server’s rush, and it often leads me, to a overly elated, sometimes silly state/mood, where I am scurrying around on auto-pilot. I c
atch myself in little conscious moments, asking, “Where in the hell has your calm gone?” OR “Can’t you effectively get all this done without acting like a hyper circus performer?” I do like my tips however 😉 But what I’m getting at, is that, I feel that I’m letting myself get too carried away by the flow, and am not guarding my moral purpose, my reasoning faculty as closely as I should. I have slips of the tongue joking too much in the kitchen in vulgar conversations, and afterwards tell myself, “You need
to stay coooool.” These are behaviors I’m noticing that aren’t very becoming and want to change.

Checking and changing this behavior will be an ongoing test for me as I blog about my experiences serving in the coming days. I’m also finding that blogging about this is sort of like a SELF MONITORING exercise, which the ancient Stoic’s were fond of as well. Til next time, Keep Calm and Stoic On! 😛



Author: Stoic Mime

Life student of philosophy. Artist and musician. Always striving to live as a "good" person and to discourage unnecessary suffering in myself and others by drawing on Art and Stoic philosophy. Like many things in life, though, it's not always that simple. ;)

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