For 23 years, I worked Christmas. It was not that I had to or even if I wanted to. My reasons were quite simple. My crew had to work so I did also. I know it was hard on my kids but it was hard on theirs also. So, one of the first decisions that I made when I took over the diner was very simple. Thanksgiving and Christmas were to be family holidays and were going to be off for my crew.
We had plans for Thanksgiving and some of our crew decided it was important to them also but Christmas. The diner was to be officially closed. And so it became.
My Christmas started simply by getting out of bed. There were no responsibilities other than just that. Trinity needed some things so we decided to go out. We decided that if we found a coffee shop open, we would get a latte and bring one back to Judy. We noticed a store open and figured that the Starbucks within would be open also. We were right.
Two men were running the little shop. We ordered up our drinks. I told the man that I was sorry that he had to work. He looked right through me....not hearing a word that I said. I figured it was because he was busy so I let it go and just stuffed a couple of bills in the tip bucket.
I then stood in line waiting for our drinks. The man there had been complaining to the previous customer on how he had to work and what he had told his kids when they asked him. I told him also that I was sorry that he had to work. Instead of acknowledging me, he continued to complain about his demise. I said, "I am just trying to say that I understand. I worked Christmas for 23 years and this woman next to me didn't see her father every Christmas morning just as your child did today.". He seemed to not hear a word that I said so I just let it go. I walked away almost kicking myself for even coming in. After all, if people like me did not go out on Christmas morning, he would not be working and would be home with his kids. But, now I had my Mocha Truffle latte.
I think next year, I will not be going out at all except to go to the diner to get something. I actually enjoyed going to the diner in the afternoon. I walked through the quiet diner. It was all so peaceful and quiet. It reminded me of the day before we opened up there. I walked through the building, talking to it as if I was talking to a friend. I remember telling it to get ready. I told it that it was going to be filled with people like it has never been filled before. And those people would be happy and enjoying themselves. I promised the building that if it took care of me, I would take care of it. It was funny, but I knew this inanimate object would become one of my friends and it truly has. When I walk into her, it is like walking into my home.
And I believe that is a part of our success. Allot of my crew have that same feeling of sorts. They enjoy themselves there and see many people who over the years have become friends. In one day last week, three separate customers told me that they felt our employees were like extended family to them. Those words are so much more important than anything that the bottom line can give to me.
To all of the people who have supported us over these last five years. Who smile and talk to me both in the diner and where they meet me in other places. Who encourage, support, and make my job a happy one. A very Merry Christmas. Thank you for allowing me to survive in the building that so many including myself considered the worst location in town for a restaurant.
May God bless you all.