Month: October 2017

Lessons Learned…Continued by Lois Hewitt 

The journey that I am on is one of continual lessons to be learned. My time on the train is finished and as I close this chapter of my life, I thought I should reflect on the newest lessons learned.

People are sometimes mean and cruel.  I have strived to treat others as I expect to be treated but not everyone shares that desire. Between my short-lived career at the casino and my time on the train, I have met a lot of unhappy people. The kind of people that no matter what you do, they will never be pleased. I used to take all that negative energy personally. You cannot do that.  Those people are unhappy period. They were unhappy before they crossed my path and will be unhappy long after our time together. I have learned that when they lash out at you, most times it is not personal.  It feels as if it is but something else, something deeper is the root problem. The same is true with me I have learned.  When I’m mad it is usually something much deeper than the situation I am in. So don’t take the lashings personal.  

Get used to entitlement attitudes. The difference between last year and this year on the train is like night and day.  More and more people act entitled.  I have found that a few people will run you ragged at the expense of everyone else and not even be satisfied with it.  In my job on the train, I would be the server for up to 44 people.  Some would never utter a peep, while others demanded more every time I walked past. I would be required to refill drinks that had one sip gone.  Or get extra salad dressings that never got used.  I am guessing there are a group of people who think they somehow have to get everything they can out of the experience even if it means less time with other customers. I have a problem with the entitlement mentality, I just haven’t found a way to conquer it.  It is becoming very prevalent in this country and it is beyond sad.

You cannot live on cafe hot dogs everyday.  Enough said.

Don’t expect outer gratification.  Servers live off tips and there was a time when you could depend on those. Don’t depend on them anymore. More and more people tip badly or not at all. Yesterday I served a family of ten for 4 1/2 hours only to  have them slip me a dollar and expect my undying gratitude. If you cannot live on the hourly rate alone, maybe it’s time for a new career.  It’s very difficult to make a livable wage from the generous few.  That’s where I am at, looking for a new career path. 

Babies don’t seem to like 4 1/2 hour train rides, nor do toddlers. Who knew?

Your coworkers have to have your back and visa versa.  The more demanding the job, the more you need the support of your coworkers.  If you cannot get along with them, it’s going to make it extremely difficult to get along with strangers/customers. 

Celebrate EVERY victory. Some days everything is in perfect alignment and the day goes off without a hitch. Celebrate it somehow. Those days are few and far between so enjoy them.  Some days start incredibly bad but end up great, celebrate!  I have learned to not expect the win, but when it happens I celebrate with an ice cold beer, a delicious dessert or a long nap. Whatever it takes.  Each victory is precious!

You have to take care of yourself. If you don’t, things usually end up being worse.  Take your vitamins, eat right, get enough sleep and don’t work so much that you forget what you love to do.  I have had such busy times in my life that I actually forgot what things I used to love to do.  Your soul needs nourishment as much as your body does. Nourish your inner self. It helps keep you sane during the chaos.

There are a lot more lessons, but this one is my most important one.  Always act in love even to the entitled, bitter people.  My very wise cousin told me, you never know whose life you can change with a kind word or a good deed.  Random acts of kindness and paying it forward are both real things. They can change the world for the better…one act at a time.

It’s been an amazing adventure.  I am grateful for the good as well as the bad. I learned from both.  


Why Am I Surprised? By Lois Hewitt

Before I begin, this is not a post fishing for a compliment or to say how great I am.  That’s not what I want this to be about.  This year on the train has been so different from last year.  I cannot pinpoint what made the change, just that it did happen.  Rudeness from customers is now the new norm.  Complaining is the new point of conversation.  The temperature is never right, the food isn’t up to par, the seats are too hard, the service isn’t fast enough, the trip is too long or too short, the line to the restroom is too long, and the weather isn’t good enough,  just to name a few complaints. 

I try to tell about local history and I can barely get their attention as they continue to talk over me.  Today, I stopped mid-sentence and walked off, I doubt anyone even noticed.  I explain that I go to each table over and over so that I can make sure that no customer is missed or ignored. I try to treat all 44 of my customers the same.  Well apparently, some people are more important than others because they will do anything to get their request filled immediately.  When I say that I’m on my way and will be there as fast as I can, they act like I kicked a puppy. There goes another tip down the drain.  

Seems no one has any tolerance for even the slightest discomfort. There is definitely no tolerance for being inconvenienced even if you are assisting another customer. So the rudeness isn’t just directed at me, it’s aimed at all people everywhere.  This morning it was chilly outside. We always board people who need a little extra time or need assistance first.  Today I asked if anyone needed assistance and everyone in line came up.  I doubt that the entire car was not in need of assistance,  their personal needs came before people who truly needed help.

Today I sit here defeated, wondering where society is headed.  Where are manners and basic respect? It’s so sad that when you meet someone who is considerate, you can’t believe it.  It has become such a rarity in our society.  Today I am very sad for the people of the world for they obviously do not see things from the same perspective that I do.  Tolerance, love and compassion are all traits I am trying to cultivate in myself, but you can only be totally ignored or cast aside so many times until you give up. I’m on the verge of giving up.

If entitlement and disregard for other people become the norm, I don’t want to live here any longer.  I am thinking about becoming a hermit. Except that isn’t a high paying profession!  I feel hurt and discouraged.  I feel sad and disappointed.  I realize that no place is idealistic but it’s not so much about a certain place, it’s about human response to other humans. 

I will keep trying because that’s what I do.  Occasionally you have that perfect day that plays out beautifully. You feel love and give it freely.  Those days are few and far between but they seem to keep us all going, moving forward.  I wish those times where the norm, but that’s probably too much to ask for. As long as entitlements and greed have a stronghold on people it will only get worse. 

Maybe I’ll start looking for a cave to live in since deserted islands are usually too expensive.

That Which Makes us Stronger by Lois Hewitt

I can admit it now.  As a child and a young somewhat-adult I was weak.  Ever afraid to have someone not like me, ever afraid of not being nice.  That behavior made me weak and it allowed me to get into situations that were not healthy for me.  It also caused an unpredictable, terrifying rage to live inside of me.  Now I’m not talking about trying to be a good person or having manners.  I’m talking about being afraid to say no to harmful situations, about doing whatever to have someone like me.  The horrific thing about that is I was usually trying to make someone I would never have liked in the first place like me. I could not bear to not be liked. My self-esteem was that low.

I spent many years vacillating between rage and guilt.  I was mad these situations happened, then I thought it was all my fault.  That’s when I started dealing with anxiety and depression.  I allowed those bad situations to dictate my life years and years after they occurred.  I chose to wear those situations and my weakness as a badge. Look at me and how pathetic I am.  Looking back on myself all I see is complete and utter weakness.

In retrospect, I can honestly say that now I can be liked or not.  I can live with either.  I can now venture into a situation and not just say no, but say no F*ing way.  I have learned through this amazing and terrifying journey that those negative experiences truly have made me a much stronger person today.  I still have moments where I think for a second about not being liked, then it goes away and I take control.  I never want to be weak again, I want to fight back when necessary.  I don’t want to tolerate bad behavior just because it is the nice thing to do.  

You can be a nice person and still be strong.  You just have to be able to stand up for yourself or someone who cannot do it themselves.  You can be kind and strong at the same time.  If you don’t have the kindness part of the equation, you can run the risk of being a bully.  You need both components.  You can remember those past hurts and use them to keep you strong.  I used to hate those times when I was unable to stand up for myself, now I look at them as my training ground for who I am today.  Without them, I would not be as empowered as I am right now.

To all the people who took advantage willingly or unknowingly, thank you.  Once I got my head out of my nether regions, I saw my own inner strength come out.  The self-pity and even the unpredictable rage went away.  I still get angry at times but it is over a current situation not one from 40 years ago. There is a huge difference.  

I have decided to learn from the past instead of reliving and reliving it. I have decided to forgive them (however not forget) and to forgive myself.  I did not have the tools then that I have now.  Ironically, the tools I have now came from those experiences.  I feel so much healthier now that I let up on the grip those circumstances held over me.  I feel a new kind of freedom…and it feels good!

If Only….by Lois Hewitt

Not sure who wrote this. Sorry for the profanity.

If only I could pay off my bills, then I would be happy.  If only I could lose this excess weight, then I would be happy. If only I was prettier or smarter or more of something else, then I would be happy. These are lies I have been telling myself my entire adult life. Basically I was saying that I was unhappy because of one or more things in my life were missing and once I found those things than I would finally be happy.

I have been on this self-awareness journey for a very long time and I just figured this out.  Last night it hit me. I was laying awake trying to sleep and my mind just kept going in circles. I was thinking about what it would be like if I could lose about 30 pounds, cut my hair short (and miraculously have it be thicker too), start wearing some cool glasses and have a new sense of how to dress.  I thought as I fell asleep that those things would make me happy.  

Then I woke up as me; still chunky, gray haired with the same two outfits I had yesterday.  My mind wishes I was prettier and smarter, but my reality is simply what I am. That’s not to say I can’t try to improve myself, but the groundwork is laid and a beauty I’ll never be.  That’s ok.  Once I can finally accept my weight, my looks and my IQ, that’s when I think I will finally be happy. 

I gave up reading magazines and watching lots of tv years ago.  I found the constant bombardment of beauty products, clothing ads and other such nonsense made me feel less of a person.  So I did my own little boycott of those things thinking I would come to finally accept myself.  I thought I had but it turns out that I was wrong yet again. Those images still plagued me without even knowing it.

We, as humans, have been given the amazing ability to change ourselves for the better.  But short of plastic surgery and a wig, my looks are my looks. I can always learn new things, but I’m never going to be a Mensa.  And my fashion sense has always been and always will be a lost cause. Guess what?  That’s ok because those things along with my experiences have made me who I am today.

So no more wishing I was gorgeous or brilliant or even talented.  I will continue to try to improve myself but no more “if only” in my life. That seems like such an obvious lesson, yet it’s not one I easily learned.  So world here I am with all my flaws.  Now I get what Popeye was saying. I am what I am!