the girl behind the counter

from the outside looking in

I watched through the window as she stood behind the counter, always moving,

grabbing sandwiches, putting them in bags,

fixing drinks and grabbing the right-sized lid first try

(something I never seem to be able to do)

she was all about the job

and the customer

the ones who saw her as the final step between

them and their supper


did they see her tired eyes?

did they welcome the gift of her smile?

did they see more than an employee in front of them?

did they see the girl?


the girl, the young woman,

who works each night to pay for gas and classes and books

who, tomorrow morning, will rise before the sun is up

and drive to the campus

of the college she chose and loves


she and her team will practice

teamwork and footwork and laugh and play hard

preparing for Saturday’s big game

later she will go to classes and listen and take notes,

holding back a yawn,

leftovers from a long night of working

and a later night of studying


after class there’s the paper to write

and the mid-term to prepare for

friends to meet and share notes with

research to do in the library


before she makes the drive back home

to change and get ready to work

to cook our suppers and serve with a smile


this young woman,

who works so she can learn

and get the education that will give her a head start

as she prepares for a life on her own


this young woman whose diploma one day

will make her smile

and bring back memories and all the stories

and just might smell faintly of chicken sandwiches and fries

and hard work

and service with a smile


and she will go places

not because of the diploma

but because of the drive that earned her

that piece of paper

and so much more







1 thought on “the girl behind the counter”

  1. Good insight….I always appreciate the people in services jobs, as I was once one. And my children were working college students who would call me so excited about a good tip or money found in a pocket of something they hadn’t worn in awhile. They struggled with all of what you wrote and today are confident women who DID IT. You know this with your own daughter and I don’t know if that’s who you wrote about but you nailed it!

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