I had been working at the restaurant for six months when they hired Julie. Julie was petite with long blonde hair and bright blue doe eyes. Her face was liberally painted with make-up.
During her first week, I heard over and over that she was hopeless. She didn’t do her job right. She asked too many questions. She made too many mistakes. ‘She’ll be gone in a month,” a friend predicted.
To everyone’s surprise, she wasn’t gone after the first week, and I was scheduled to train her. I bristled at the thought because I was convinced that Julie was useless at her job. I figured if she was going to be gone soon she wasn’t worth the investment. Against my hopes, she showed up, those big blue eyes like those of a deer caught in headlights; ready to work. Threatened that she would encroach on my comfort, I left her at the door to greet guests while I snuck away to work elsewhere. I wanted to spend the least amount of time with her as I could.
Unfortunately, it was a slow day and we ended up at the door together. When she started asking personal questions I was looking for a way out. I was a dog backed into a corner, eyes darting for any escape. Then she asked where I went to high school, and her eyes lit up when I told her I went to a local Christian school.
“I know someone who went there too!” She named a close and–as she recalled–good-looking friend of mine. I was surprised to have this connection with her.
She continued, “I used to go to church too.”
“Oh nice, which one?”
She named a local church I was familiar with.
“I went to their vacation Bible school as a kid,” I said. We soon discovered that we were there at the same time and, since we were the same age, we might have even sat beside each other.
“Do you still go to that church?” I asked
Julie became quiet. Looking down, she proceeded to tell me about how her parents got divorced while they were going to that church. She shared how her mom felt alienated by the people there after the divorce. Eventually, they left the church and never came back.
When Julie finished her story I realized she wasn’t the dumb new girl from work anymore. She was my friend. She was human. I couldn’t be so sure about myself.