Pin Tales: The Waitress

This project is about human interaction — how we choose to treat other people.

With thanks to Janice Jow, who suggested writing down and sharing the stories of The Love Bead Safe Harbor Pin Project.

This is the story of The Waitress.

My friend and I went out for brunch one Sunday. My friend is learning to drive  (which is badass when you never planned to learn and didn’t especially want to, but you just got a job you like and they want you to drive).  When we go out now, she drives at least part of the time, and we stop to eat.

We went to a diner, ate, caught up on what was going on in our lives, and laughed.  I approached the register, making my way through the crowd.

The waitress who had pulled cash register duty was young, maybe mid-20s, with big, serious eyes and dark hair pulled into a ponytail, which is close to being the Universal Waitress Hairdo (I used to be a waitress, years ago, and almost all of the younger waitresses wore their hair that way. It’s a practical thing). She glanced at the Love Bead Safe Harbor pin on my blouse. “I really like that,” she said quietly.

She wasn’t familiar with Safe Harbor pins (most people I meet aren’t), but said she really liked the idea. I offered her a set of pins, holding out several types. I explained that one was Civil Rights and Social Justice, one was Women’s Rights, and the rainbow set was LGBTQI Rights. She bent closer and pointed to the rainbow set. “I’d like to have those, please.” Her voice was almost a whisper.

I get it. You have to be careful when you work with the public. Some people feel it is their bound duty to give you their unsolicited opinions about how you live your life (instead of, say, keeping their opinions to themselves and going about their own lives. Whenever people do that, I want to ask for all the details about their lives so I can pass judgement on them. I should get to have fun, too).

She took the pins, met my eyes, and said, “Thank you.”

My friend and I left the restaurant. Not everyone is in a position to bravely trumpet their beliefs everywhere they go. If putting food on the table, or paying for school, or other necessities of life depend on not offending people, your march is harder than that of someone who won’t lose much by standing up. Which means that standing up is all the more important for anyone who can, because then you’re standing up for yourself, and for someone not so fortunate.

She picked those pins, making her public commitment to the importance of people treating each other with true respect, in a time and place when it wasn’t easy for her to do that. Sometimes heroics are quiet, life-affirming acts taken by people for whom standing up at all is hard.



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