Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Can I Get A Big Yeehaw?

   There was a time, long ago, when I was terrified of speaking over an intercom. I didn't like intercoms, I still don't care for the sound of my voice over speakers, and a mistake was mortifying. However, this is a fear that I had to confront and overcome early in my working life. Once upon a time, before the birth of my daughter, back when  I thought that I would never have kids, I worked at a bar & grill. A bar & grill in the South, that catered to rednecks. 
    I had started out as a waitress, but being a waitress takes a certain personality and skill set, and I am lacking those. I hated waitressing, and eventually I moved from waitress to hostess. Back then, I was painfully unsure of myself, and seating people was better than serving them, but the hostess had one job that I was terrified of. 
   You've all witnessed the singing of happy birthday to people who come to any restaurant, I'm sure. They all have some way of recognizing people choosing their establishment to celebrate. The bar & grill that I worked at, if you will remember, catered to rednecks, so they figured that rednecks would not be impressed by the singing of happy birthday. So what they did, was the hostess would get on the intercom, and the hostess had a speech that went like this: "Listen up, ya'll! (Insert name) is celebrating her/her birthday today! On the count of three, I want to get a great big YEEHAW from ya'll to help them celebrate!" And then the hostess would count to three and the whole bar would bellow, "YEEHAW!!" at the top of their lungs. 
   And inevitably, my time came when I had to preform this dreaded service. I was really a mouse back then, so I barely squeaked out the message, and the ensuing yeehaw was pathetic. The thing about rednecks: if they are expecting something to be big and loud, and they are disappointed, they will make you do it again. I was mortified, but I had a bunch of dudes calling to me, "C'mon, sweetheart, we gotta do that again!" and various forms of heckling, that never got mean, but was insistent. I was very kindly, yet aggressively forced to get on that intercom, and repeat the entire process. Which I did as loud as I could, because even worse than being on the intercom is being forced to get people to yeehaw all damn night, and I wanted to be done with the process. 
    However, this incident did take some of the crippling stage fright that  I used to suffer away. It's kinda hard to be worried about getting on the intercom at work now. A spill? No problem calling for maintenance over the intercom. Way better than getting your whole customer base to shout yeehaw at you. Also, this experience vastly helped me when  I had to do my speech class in college, which is one of the classes that I went to campus for. While giving speeches to a class full of nervous students who were predisposed to feeling sympathetic for me was not such a problem. Of course,  I was still nervous, but not matter what happened, I wasn't going to have to get on an intercom and act a fool. And I was lucky, because none of those customers in that bar & grill were being mean to me. They understood that I was shy, but they were gonna have their chance to holler YEEHAW as loudly as possible; in the long run, this was a helpful experience, because I just don't care about intercoms anymore. They have lost all power to frighten me. 

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