Not My Table, Hon

 The most helpful thing I grasped while waitressing was that some tables were my responsibility and some were not.  A waitress gets overwhelmed if she has too many tables, and no one gets good service.

In my life, I have certain things to take care of: my children, my relationships, my work, one or two causes, and myself.

That’s it.  Other things are not my table.

I would go nuts if I tried to take care of everyone, if I tried to make everybody do the right thing.

If I went through my life without ever learning to say, “Sorry that’s not my table, Hon,” I would burn out and be no good to anybody.

I need to have a surly waitress inside myself that I can call on when it seems everybody in the world is waving an empty coffee cup in my direction.

My Inner Waitress looks over at them, keeping her six plates balanced and her feet moving, and says,

“Sorry, Hon, not my table.”

(That story is by Susan Shaw and quoted in a book I’m reading, The Power of Pause by Terry Hershey.)

My friends and I talk about the necessity of “letting go”.  I know about “detaching with love” and “you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself”.  I get all that.

But at some point I learned:

focusing on my needs is selfish,

if I could just make sure everyone else was okay, then I’d be okay,

and caretaking is noble.

I like having an Inner Waitress.  I am given a set number of tables to serve.  If they don’t fill up, I stop and rest.  If they’re full of messy teenagers, cranky babies, or slightly rude businessmen preoccupied with their phones, then I keep putting one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing.  Hopefully with some grace and a smile.

It’s simple.  God’s the boss.  I’m the server.

Now, which ones are my tables?

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Love it! I’m going to share this with my facebook friends!

  2. Perfect… I needed this today especially. Been a crazy busy week with no end in sight. Thanks for the reminder and great post!

    • Glad it helped! And thanks for reading.

  3. Hi Robin! Back in the barn and catching up. We erudites in the oil patch had a saying that one “Aw Shit” wipes out all your “Atta- Boys”. I think that was where you were headed, but just wanted to lend a hand when I could.

    Its like feeding the hungry, or better, feeding the bears. Feed the bears long enough and they forget how to feed themselves. Then they have little bears that they can’t feed, and pretty soon you can’t feed them either. Then guess what….they eat you!

    That’s where you redneck buddy the the 300 Winchester Magnum comes in handy!

  4. An awesome metaphor. I’m going to remember it, though I, too, will have trouble saying, “Not my table.”

    • It’s already being used in my family–shorthand for the long speech I usually give.


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