She Who Commands

This woman was directing a food service line.  It was obvious who was in charge.  I knew she has been at this for a very long time.  She had the air of a person who knows what she’s doing and brooks no nonsense.   Her quiet confidence impressed me.  I admire competence and the sense of accomplishment she obviously found in doing her job well…a true professional in my eyes.

9 Comments on “She Who Commands

  1. I ran a kitchen for about seven years, for a residence of about 45 students at the university. Before that I was involved in a profession accustomed to enjoying more rarefied air. I quickly learned what it was like to be on the receiving end — what it was like ‘to serve’, rather than ‘be served’. It often brought to mind my dear mother,who–though a lovely soul–seldom could afford to eat out and so didn’t quite understand the nuances. On those rare occasions where she didn’t have to cook, she enjoyed the reversal of roles and therefore tended to treat table servers with a certain degree of what I call her ‘Maggie Smith-isms’.

    For a long while we lived on the New York side of the NY/Vermont border, but once we kids were all out of the house, the two of them moved a few miles further, beside a Vermont lake. This she deemed a half-step further up the social ladder for some reason. To me, there were as many junky cars in unkempt yards on that side of the line, as on the New York side, but I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder.

    Anyway, some time after my father had gone I’d come down from Canada and we went yard sale picking near Ticonderoga, New York. At about 11 a.m. we ended up at a village diner and already my mother started in by sliding her glasses down her nose to then lift her face up in order to peer more regally at the menu. I was trying to hold off rolling my eyes too soon when the server came over, pulled a pencil out of her hair, licked the end of it, put it to her order pad and said to my mother, “See anythin y’all like, dear?”

    After whole minutes, my mother said, “With the French Toast . . . do you have real Maple Syrup?” , then paused for effect, and added, “From Vermont?”

    The server cleared her throat and smiled this little smile, “What we’s got goin today madam, is real imitation syrup from Aunt Jemima.” Then she chewed her gum a bit more. “Will that do?”

    My mother folded her menu up and said to one finger nail in particular, “I’ll have the tea and danish” (which I swear to god is all she was intending to have when we went in there).

    How I wish the subject of your wonderful photo above was serving us on that particular occasion.

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    • I’m smiling all the way through this. How familiar it is to me. Are you certain you didn’t forget that you lived in the South? I guess Jersey has its Smithisms too. Must be a universal thing. I’m saving this for a future post… Be very careful what you say to me. I will tell…sooner or later! 😉

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      • I knew you would get a smile out of this. My sister and I always have a laugh whenever one of us serves pancakes because we’ll say, “Is that REAL maple syrup–from VERMONT?” It’s really quite humorous on more than one level because here in Canada, Vermont Maple Syrup is considered second-rate to syrup from Quebec. Myself, I just get Mrs. Butterworth. I can’t afford the real thing–well, let’s be clear–I’m too cheap.

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        • That last explanation was unnecessary. I already guessed you would be too, shall we say, “frugal”? 😉

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    • Thanks, Alex. I watched her for a long time. She was good at what she did. I like that. My parents were blue-collar workers. They instilled in me a deep and lifelong respect for people who work with their hands. People who “take pride in their work”. I hope we haven’t lost that along the way.

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