Six of Hearts.

Myself and a few co-workers went out to dinner to celebrate someone’s birthday. Our reservations weren’t until 8:30 and as such, by the time we finished we were one of the last remaining tables. At the end of the meal the waiter spent a few minutes chatting with us.

He explained that he has worked as a waiter in that particular restaurant for 11 years and served over 500,000 people. (“Half a million if you didn’t know what that means.”) At this point, he’s developed the skills to understand his customer and what it will take to “elevate their dining experience two or three octaves.”

As a table we remarked on how impressive it was, and I blurted that it would be a great skill to have in sales.

He scoffed. “Sales. Let me tell you something about sales”

He pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and scrawled something on it. He put the paper face down on the table and put a plate on top of it.

“Think about a deck of cards…. there are four suits: hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades, two colors: red and black, numbers and face cards.”

“Choose a color, black? Right, and that leaves red? Yes?” Yes. “And there are two red suits. Hearts and Diamonds. Choose one. Hearts? OK. Now there are face cards and numbers. Pick one. Numbers? OK. High or low? Low. Got it. SO, six or eight. Eight? So that leaves six of hearts right?”

The waiter moved the plate and I flipped over the piece of paper revealing a 6 scrawled inside of a lopsided heart.

“Now see, I can sell you anything if I can lead you to it and make you think that its what you chose.”

The waiter went on to say, “Now ladies, I have a daughter just about your age, and I’ve told her time and time again, if I can make you believe you chose the six of hearts, a guy can make you believe that you chose to go home with him.”

Whoa. That got really real, really fast. But he was right, if you don’t know what you want, if you haven’t made a choice, someone else will choose for you. And they will lead you straight to the Six of Hearts.

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Comfy Corner of the Couch

Another college essay revisited. Traveling, and graduating in general, has had me thinking a lot about comfort and independence. This short essay that I wrote for my Notre Dame application focuses on the security and comfort of my home, represented by my favorite spot on the couch. I maintain that I am extraordinarily lucky to have had the privilege of such a comfortable, secure, and loving childhood home.

The corner of the couch: where the springs sag just right and the cushions, soft from years of wear, embrace me. Between the cushions I find old cheerios, long lost Nerf darts, and a small fortune in monopoly money left by my younger brothers. This spot is equated with comfort. This is the spot I seek out to do calculus homework that seems impossible. The spot where I curl up to talk with my best friend. The spot where I sit when my family watches a movie together. This spot allows me to unwind, relax, connect. Sitting in the corner of the couch I consider the safety and security of my life: the supportive friends who are always on my side, the stable family I was blessed to be born into, the home I live in, beautiful because of the love it contains. I consider how good fortune and the grace of God have held me in comfort through my life like the corner of the couch.

Being away from home, and making choices on my own, I’ve learned that another important aspect of comfort is independence. Even though FOMO gets to me occasionally, I’m learning that I’m much happier and much more comfortable when I am independent and do what is right for me. Its an exercise in listening to the quiet voice in your head that loves you.

That little voice usually knows what is best for you. And if that voice is saying you need to go out on a Thursday, or eat ice cream for dinner, I would suggest you comply. But conversely, if that little voice recommends going to bed a 8:30 or going for a run alone instead of joining happy hour,  its probably wise to listen.