What a Fast Food Server Taught Me about Being Present and 9/11


It was 9/11/13 – I walked up to the counter to order my food. The fast food server was a young woman, her name was Kelli. She taught me about being present and 9/11.

Kelli asked for my order so fast my head spun. It’s a good thing I was paying attention to what she was saying or I wouldn’t have heard her at all. The words were spilling out of her mouth as if she was a robot repeating a script programed into her. I could tell she couldn’t see me. Physically her eyes worked just fine, however she didn’t see me. I was another number and another order to process super fast to get to the next person even though there was no one behind me. I lifted my head from searching through my wallet. I looked at her and said laughingly, “Girl it’s a good thing I can listen quickly, because I can barely understand you. You speak at lightning speed. Take a deep breath.” She admitted she was used to the questions she was required to ask. In fact so familiar that she didn’t even think about what she was saying anymore.

Her tiny moment of being present was just that, tiny. She had a momentary blip and was present for a few seconds. Then she dove back into robot mode, asking me a third time if I wanted Salsa and knew where the hot sauce bar was. She fell back asleep to what and who was in front of her and robot-ing her way through her work day. My heart filled with understanding and compassion for her. It also started me thinking about me, if there were times I’d mechanically moved my way through my day.

It also had me think how many of us have robot-ed our way through a whole lifetime. It reminded me 09/11/01 the date 12 years ago in US history that stands as a day when lots of lives ended. Many people I could imagine thought this was going to be a regular work day, just like any other day. However it was their last day. Their last of everything. I can only imagine how many people would love to have their loved ones back. To be able to hug, kiss and laugh with their special people. I can only guess that their message to us would be,  go all in. Be present with every person and moment of your day! Don’t take any moment for granted. You never know when it maybe your last chance. Yes, even if you’re the one behind the counter at a fast food joint. This day, today is a gift.  I think the best way to remember 9/11 and those who lost their lives that day is to live present, awake & alive and vibrant lives. Not to remember the fear that event created or learning to hate those who flew the planes. Let’s remember those people by celebrating who we are and those we love. Celebrating the gifts we were given. Let us live, not just survive.


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