“His voice his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer.” Jean-Paul Sartre
It was dark , bitterly cold, misty and getting into the late part of the evening when I got home the other night; this is usually the time when an automatic reflection process begins in my head. And in the mist of my thinking I remembered a conversation; either on a podcast or a radio station I was listening to a while back ,about how people pretend to be something that they clearly are not. I couldn’t help but think if people do put on a mask wherever they go by playing a role other than who they really are; both out in the world of work/school and at home. If so, what are they trying to prove or hide?
Most recently I came across the works from Jean-Paul Sartre; Sartre in his philosophical text “Being and Nothingness” in this he demonstrates how absurd it is to be overly enthusiastic in your approach to life where it gets to the point where you become…… well a fruitcake phony! He famously illustrates his point well by using the description of the behaviour of a waiter in a cafe:
“His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes toward the patrons with a step a little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer”.
In this sense by over exaggerating and overdoing the role as the waiter; he is reducing himself to being only a waiter and nothing else thus escaping himself of whom he truly is. By doing this he shuts himself off to other opportunities without even giving them a chance and thus Sartre describes this as living in bad faith.
The first thing that popped in my head when I read this from Sartre was, my personal experiences with waiters/tress, and how they have always been very attentive and served with such care and diligence, even when customers have been absurdly horrible to them. And sometimes I think that ones kindness can be taken advantage of especially in such situations, which is such a shame. Being a waiter/tress; in particularly in a busy place is not an easy job; to be able to be kind, calm and collected in such stressful situations around very hangery people (hungry + angry) and to balance all them heavy plates and orders at the same time is quite some valuable skills! I must confess I’ve tried holding multiple plates on my arm at home just to see what it was like… let’s just say I’m pretty clumsy, so quite a few broken plates as a result! In terms of what Sartre states I completely understand what he means, as there are people who are not so genuine and almost robotic, and following a dusty (usually out of date) rule book and doing as they are told word for word; maybe they do it out of fear? Or through bad advice (and example) as they were growing up, and are now conditioned to be that particular way?
So from reading Sartre I came to the conclusion that yes do your job, but not because thats all you are, but because this is a job to meet other needs; that doesn’t mean not to put passion in to your work but to do it from a genuine place, really enjoy it, live in the moment as they say. Therefore, finding that balance of being respectful to your job(s) whatever it may be ,but also having an abundance of self respect to know who you really are and to be who you truly are. And from the outside looking in, for people to be respectful of everyone that’s doing their job especially if they are helping you and to never ever look down on anyone as we are all human and individuals who have our own journey in life and doing the best we can.
-Sophia Alisa Ali©