“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
Tears streamed down my cheeks as Jerrin and I watched the final episode of The Office, sitting on the couch, eating cookie dough. The cast was gathered around, reminiscing on all the good times in the past, and I realized that this would soon be me. It was weeks before I was to leave my job as a server at Charleston’s Restaurant, a job I have been working for the past five years, and this phrase hit me hard. Up until that point, I could’t wait to be done serving tables for good. I was SO done with this job you guys, to the point of crying in my car multiple times after long days when everything went wrong. Jerrin would ask me every night how work was that day, and I would mumble “It was ok. My feet hurt,” or grind my teeth and vent about some rude lady who ruined my entire night. It was the only thing keeping me from my dream job as a full-time photographer, yet the only thing allowing me to pursue it, and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s easy to fixate on the bad things and stifle all the rewarding times when it comes to working for someone who isn’t, well, you. But when I thought about how differently my life would have turned out if I hadn’t taken this job, I literally gasped…
- I wouldn’t have met my husband.
- I wouldn’t have paid for all of my photography equipment and expenses.
- I wouldn’t have had years of experience in customer service.
- I wouldn’t have met some of the greatest friends I have ever known.
- I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Fast forward to my last day of work, transitioning from my day job to my dream job, the moment I have waited for for years. As I clocked out for the last time, gave everyone hugs, and looked around, I found it hard to swallow. “I can’t believe this is goodbye.” Through tears I pushed the door open into the bright sunlight, walked across the parking lot, and looked back over my shoulder. “This is it. I’m done…” I thought and took a shaky breath. And for the last time in my all-black, dirty uniform, I got in my car and cried. For all the amazing friends who I’m not going to see on a weekly basis, who I laughed with for hours. For the people who have made such a lasting impact on my heart, and I’m not sure I could have made it without them by my side. For all of the regulars who sat at the bar and told me they were so proud of me, those who I’m really going to miss. But mostly, for all the moments I took for granted, surrounded by people who care about me and who I am so blessed to know. To all my Charleston’s family:
It was truly a privilege working beside you for so many years. You have made me stronger, pushed me to work harder, and have changed me for the better. I can’t thank you enough for the countless memories I will hold on to the rest of my life, and I love you guys with all my heart.
Although now I may be terrified and have no clue what lies ahead, I am so excited to start my dream job, full time. The words still don’t seem real when I say them out loud. I can’t believe this day has finally come, and I am so thankful for what God has been doing in my life. But for now, I’m going to look back, remembering the good old days in my 20’s waiting tables with my friends, and I’m going to smile. Because all of the good moments outweigh the bad 100 times over. And of course, Jim Halpert said it best:
“Even if I didn’t love every minute of it, everything I have I owe to this job…this stupid, wonderful, boring, amazing job.”
Here’s to a new chapter.