Americas

Pay It Forward

This one is for all the Go Girl waitresses out there.

I’ve come across some good reads about waitress horror stories or “waitmares” as I’ve heard other servers call them. But this one shines a little light on the positive side of things.

Rewind my life a year and a half. It’s my last day serving food at a Chinese restaurant that I’ve worked in through all my years at college. I was moving to a new part of the state, preparing to explore new options for my life. My boss had immigrated to the U.S.  from China about 20 years prior and it just so happened that fate put us together. The restaurant was my home away from home. The people I worked with became a second family. The time I spent working in this place helped to shape what kind of person I am today.

I was taking care of a pretty busy lunch service. I had a table of regulars come in and hunker down at their usual booth. It was a mother, father and their daughter. I never knew their names or what their life was like. I just knew that they enjoyed eating our Chinese food from time to time. At the next booth over there was a gentleman sitting by himself. I had never seen him before. He was simple; ordered his food and kept to himself, the kind of customer a busy waitress enjoys.

When it came time for me to ring this gentleman up, he told me he wanted to pay for the table next to him. I added the slips together and found myself with a pretty generous tip from the guy as well. Before he could make his way to the door I walked over to him, shook his hand and thanked him for the kind gesture. He looked at me and all he said was “pay it forward.” Of course after he left I told the table of regulars that their meal was taken care of for the afternoon, that the stranger sitting next to them covered it. They were shocked, and seemed to be very grateful.

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Flash forward to my life today. I’m waiting tables again at the same restaurant after a year and a half of being away. All kinds of circumstances have lead me back to this place; I needed some extra cash and my boss had a waitress that was out with broken ribs from a car accident. It just seemed to be the perfect solution to both our problems. I find myself reflecting on these last several months of my life. Where have I been? Have I truly been paying it forward? Sometimes, reflecting can be hard, but it takes a certain kind of person to stare the past directly in the face, swallow your pride, and take steps to move in a direction that you dream to go in. It’s about making dreams reality.

I have been all over the country since I graduated college. I took several months off to travel and see the land of the brave and free. During this journey, I realized a lot about myself and my true passions. I reconnected with the person I had been missing for some time. I also realized I genuinely wish to share my joy with others.

A passion of mine happens to be hula hooping. This quirky activity is no longer just for children. It has swooped the world and made a huge comeback. I make adult size hoops, coordinate events for other hoopers to get together and jam, attend workshops and even keep a blog about my practice and include videos and tutorials from time to time. This is just one way that I feel I can pay it forward to someone else. If somebody discovers hula hooping and becomes as fond of it as I am; then I feel as though I’m paying it forward.

While spending a week in Oregon visiting my uncle, my young cousin introduced me to a few new girls on her block. Before they left to head home, I hooked the girls up with a couple hoops. They were so thankful, and I could tell they really liked them. One evening, after coming back from the library and heading back to my uncle’s house, I saw the girls in their yard hula hooping. I had to stop and give them both high fives. Their mother came out of their house to thank me for the hoops.

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Paying it forward doesn’t have to cost much. It could be a simple smile to a stranger that might be having a bad day or giving an unlikely gift to someone that might need a boost. I believe that these small, random acts of kindness could save the world. And now I leave my fellow Go Girls with one simple question: How have you paid it forward?

Like this article? Help keep great stories like this one alive by donating to Go Girl’s Indiegogo campaign to build a new website and share the voice of women travelers around the world. Click here for more information or to donate now (campaign ends 1 March 2013)

Christina Berube
Christina Berube is an aspiring chef, photographer, blogger, travel writer, and hula hoop dancer. Her travels have taken her to several cities in Europe, Islands in the Caribbean, Canada, and most recently a cross country trip from Maine to California. You can follow her personal blog for more exciting stories: http://hippygoluckyhoops.blogspot.com/

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