Well, That Didn’t Go As Planned


My new philosophy in life is to be calmer and more mindful. Last weekend was a very busy weekend at work. I thought it would be a great time to test the waters of my new internal calmness. I realize it is easy to be calm and thoughtful when you are in a calm and thoughtful place, but really putting the concept to the test seemed like a great idea. That is why I picked last weekend to jump into the fire, so to speak.

I started the day by having everything ready for work; my uniform was ready, lunch was packed, etc.  I got to work a few minutes early which was good.  I collected my money bag, keys and other items I would need for the upcoming 12 hour day.  I got to my train car and proceeded to get it organized the way I like, made sure I had enough supplies for two runs and started my evening paperwork so it would be done in a timely fashion at the end of the day.  I was feeling good about myself.

I was told that I would have help boarding passengers and that I would have time to start getting beverages early which is essential when you are the one server on a car with up to 44 passengers.  Efficiency and order are the rules of the day.  When doing a double run, it is absolutely imperative!  I was relieved from boarding and I was able to give the morning announcements earlier than usual. My new plan was working perfectly.  I was just getting ready to start my first beverage service when a co-worker asked for help.  I jumped in and helped, when I got back to my car the train was moving.  That meant that i was suddenly already behind. The ideal situation is to have the first beverage service done before the train moves. I wondered how I got behind all ready.

So I rushed as fast as I could to catch up, and was starting to feel upset and frustrated. How could I have done all this planning and still be behind?  I continued doing my tasks at a pace as fast as I could. I figured I would be friendlier after I got caught up.  Then the power went out in my car, which has never happened before.  I had visitors in the car entertaining so I could not continue my tasks until they were done.  I finally was able to start bar service, much later than normal.  So I quickly ran to my server station made four cocktails and poured four glasses of wine.  I picked up the tray like I have done hundreds of times before, took a few steps past the first few tables, lost my balance and proceeded to spill all the drinks down the front of my uniform, the uniform I still had to wear for 11 more hours.

I was devastated as this has never happened before.  Next thing I know I am down on all fours trying to clean up the absolutely huge mess I made while realizing that now I was even more behind and was worried about my customers becoming upset.  By this time, I still have a few tears running down my cheeks, I have several alcohol and wines dripping from my sarturated vest, and now lunch is being served without many of the customers lunch bar requests. I stood for a moment contemplating my next move.  Do I simply throw in the towel realizing that no matter what I do nothing will ever go right? Or do I calm myself, talk to the customers and keep going?

My mind came up with a plan way before I realized what was happening.  I explained to my customers what happened, made a few self-deprecating jokes, aplologized profusely and started the day all over again.  I proceeded to still have things go wrong:coffee stations just stopped working, my normal schedule was thrown off because of the second run, and other small crises.  The day finally ended, most of my customers seemed to have a good day regardless of all the many things that went wrong.

After I got home, I was finally able to wash off all the stickiness from the mornings beverage spill.  My uniform was in the washing machine also getting cleaned and I realized something.  That morning I had expected everything to proceed smoothly because I had done a lot of preparation. But all the preparation in the world cannot take into account all the unknown variables that can happen on any given day.  My focus was completely incorrect. 

I should never have expected the day to be perfect.  What I needed to focus on, and eventually did, was how I would calmly and thoughtfully deal with all the mistakes, mishaps and unexpected events that happened. I realized the old me would have thrown a tantrum and gotten really angry. But I didn’t, I had a moment of that thinking, then gave into the situation. We all laughed a lot that day.  I felt like my customers and I were in this together and it seemed like we had all connected on some level.

Even though so many things went wrong that day, so many things were right.  My attitude was severely tested and for once I feel like I actually passed the test. Maybe I am starting to change on a deeper level.  I am well aware that I cannot go on living and stressing every little thing. I have tried to let go of things in the past with very little success. Maybe I am finally learning to let go and to let God.  I hope that is true. I’m so very tired of trying to control all the things in my life. It is absolutely impossible, so I have to let go in order to live a calmer and more thoughtful life. 

Wow, what a day and what an amazing lesson learned!

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