Waves of people had taken over the food court section of the shopping mall; children running around, parents chattering, youth strolling through, and the odd individual walking by. The joy on the peoples faces stood out on this night, probably one of the busiest nights of the year.
At the queue piling up infront of McDonalds though, the peoples' faces said something else. Impatient to get their Big Macs and Chicken Nuggets, Quarter Pounders and Happy Meals, the avid McDonalds customers waited, some fussing, some complaining, some trying to cut the line, but all just angry at having to wait for their 'fast food'.
I stood in line with them, and watched the employee do his job as my turn got closer. Ernie, his name tag said (not to be confused with Bert's counterpart, of Sesame Street fame), an Asian male in his late twenties or early thirties, probably. He wasn't really smiling; between the multitude of orders he had to fulfil, the long lines of angry customers he had to serve, and the noise from a mall so busy on its peak night of the year, the customer standing at the front of the line was literally shouting at him for delaying his order. After all, this customer was standing here for over 30 seconds, and that surely is too much time to wait for food, right?
Finally served and on his way, next in line were three children, probably around 8 years old, dressed in their shiny Eid clothes, smiling and laughing, waving their money at Ernie and giggling out their incoherent order. Between the noise of the mall, the sizzling of the french fries in the background and the childrens giggles, I couldn't make out what they wanted to order. Ernie, on the other hand, seemed to understand perfectly; quick to react, take the money and give them their change, maneuver himself in a way to fill their drinks, call out their order, and start packing their happy meals all at the same time. I was impressed, actually. Within a few seconds their order was almost ready, pending the cheeseburgers from the kitchen, so he took the next order, which was mine.
I gave my order and watched him do his magic, create a meal with agility not gained through plain training or even routine. No, Ernie must have really thought this process through. Probably a product of going home every night, lying down in bed before he slept, thinking of how he did his job during the day, and perfecting the process in his mind. You see, Ernie here was an efficiency expert. He moved the line as quickly and smoothly as humanly possible, and if left to the average person, the line would probably be at the very least twice as long as it was now. He did this to make his job easier. He did this to satisfy his customers better and serve them faster. But most of all, he did this because it was his job, and he had a loyalty towards his job and wanted it to give it the best he could.
Think of yourself in his place, would you push yourself to do your best? Or would you sit back, relax and do what it takes to just get by and get your salary at month end? Think of yourself at your job now, do you really try to do your best for your entity, or do you just want to finish your time and go home?
I had just finished giving my order when the customer in line behind me started to snap; 'Hey, I want to order'. I turned around and looked at him with an eyebrow raised. 'Is there a problem? The guy's working as fast as he can, and the least you can do is appreciate that it's a busy night, and just wait. He's under enough pressure already.'
He put his head down, obviously thinking of what I had said, and felt a little ashamed for being unnecessarily selfish. Perhaps in a faster moving world none of us have the patience to wait in line, whether it's for fast food, at a queue in a bank, or anywhere else. Maybe we can stop letting out our frustrations on those same people who are helping serve us, and are doing their best to give us what we need to let us be on our way.
My order was ready, and it didn't take long at all. I gave him a sincere thank you; he didn't have the time to smile, but I knew he appreciated it, and took and fulfilled another order as I went on my way.