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April 12th, 2007
08:43 pm
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No good deed goes unreworded*
Imagine my disappointment when I came home and the top search results all pointed to waitstaff.

...

... No. That's an intriguing punchline, but kicking off with it and then telling the story backward is going to be unsatisfying. So let's start over, from the top:

I stopped at a gas station tonight on my way home and bought $6.66 worth of regular unleaded (just enough to get me to the cheap gas station on my way to pick up kadyg tomorrow). My windshield looked a little grimy. So I wandered forward to where the squeegees were stored, about two feet away from an elderly woman pumping gas into her old Volkswagen van.

"Can I get your windows for you?" I asked, and smiled. "Just the front, and rear," she said.

I walked around to her rear window and wiped. It took her a few seconds to process this; then she walked over. "Do you ... work here?"

"Nope, just passing through."

She was silent for several moments. Thanked me, finished pumping her gas, and then caught up to me as I was wiping down my own windshield's grime.

"So to what do I owe this little random act of kindness?" she asked.

I considered. An honest answer would have included the measure of self-consciousness at approaching her to get the squeegee; she had looked up, uncertain, at the stranger's approach, and I had wanted to transform the encounter into one a little more positive.**

"That's a pretty good phrase for it," I answered.

We chatted some. Exchanged introductions, though not names. Talked about our cars, digressed into a little history. She asked where I worked, and I fumbled through an explanation. Then:

Seemingly out of nowhere -- "Are you a server?"

Am i a server?

I had absolutely no context for this line.

"I, um," I fumbled, "ah, that's one way to put it ... I like helping people ..."

"Me, too," she said. Then confided: "I think being a server is the best way to end up where you should be in life." Or something of the sort; my brain was still trying to process the idea. Server. Like at an Internet company? ... Hosting web pages for destiny? ... Or, maybe, this has got to be some sort of Christian metaphor. The way that conversation took a screaming left turn it must be something religious. I'll have to look it up when I get home.

I shrugged at her. "Well, it's already gotten me this far."

We parted ways; I drove off with my $6.66 worth of gasoline, and ...

Imagine my disappointment when I came home and the top search results all pointed to waitstaff.

I'm not certain I'm convinced. It did come up in the context of work, but some of the other things she was saying around it made it seem far deeper than a mere job description.

So has anyone here heard of the term "server" in a religious context (presumably conservative Christian; she lived in Penn Valley and so odds are good that way)? Are there people who use that as a self-description besides the Workers Formerly Known As Waitstaff?

--
* Pun intentional.

** It occurs to me, hours later, that another subconscious influence on my impromptu good deed was probably my viewing yesterday of this video via bradhicks here. It's actually pretty cool. Go watch.

Current Location: ~/brainstorm
Current Mood: calmconversational
Current Music: Metallica, "Fuel"
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(16 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:premchai21
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:52 am (UTC)
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Could give out shell accounts on your head?

From:premchai21
Date:April 13th, 2007 06:00 am (UTC)
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Ooh. Or maybe it's as in volleyball or something.

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From:baxil
Date:April 13th, 2007 06:14 am (UTC)
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Ah! OK. So a server is someone who runs around whacking people's balls? I can get behind that.
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From:roaminrob
Date:April 15th, 2007 05:17 am (UTC)
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If you're gonna get behind that, I'm not about to get in front of it.

I've seen the size of your boots, dude.
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From:baronlaw
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:54 am (UTC)
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You've read "Way of the peaceful warrior"?
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From:baxil
Date:April 13th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC)
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Don't think I've heard of it. Please explain reference?
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From:baronlaw
Date:April 13th, 2007 06:15 am (UTC)
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It's a book about a fellow on a spiritual journey, he meets a teacher who works at a service station. He serves his fellow man.
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From:firestrike
Date:April 13th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)
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It's a cookbook!
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From:elynne
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
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*scares housemates; can't stop laughing*
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From:firestrike
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:17 pm (UTC)
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My job here is done...
From:mithent
Date:April 13th, 2007 10:32 am (UTC)
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I actually didn't understand 'waitstaff' until I had the context of 'server' later on (probably a UK thing), but that doesn't clear up the question as to why you'd ask someone in the situation if they were a 'server'.
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From:dirac
Date:April 13th, 2007 11:22 am (UTC)
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Very cool encounter, Bax. Thank you for sharing. I'm afraid that I haven't come across any appropriate alternate meanings for 'server,' though.
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From:jenett
Date:April 13th, 2007 11:41 am (UTC)
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Haven't heard it with server, but with *servant* - and in some accents or with people doing a slight flip on the word, that makes a lot of sense.

Try searching "servant leadership" and you'll get some decent summaries and examples.
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From:lupagreenwolf
Date:April 13th, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC)
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I was raised Catholic in a fairly liberal church, and I was an acolyte for 10 years--they called us altar servers.
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From:baxil
Date:April 13th, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC)

Gratuitous icon comment

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Hm. We're not in a real Catholic area, but it's a possibility.
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From:roaminrob
Date:April 15th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
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Or, maybe, it was just her term for the class of people that do things for other people, regardless of motivation. I've tried coming up with a good term for it, and haven't been able to. And, although Penn Valley is predominantly protestant (I think?), that doesn't mean everyone there is, or that she was a local.

Who knows.

Still would like to come up with a good term for that sort of thing, though.
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