After delivering my table’s food and refilling their drinks, I rested against the counter. Three tables were dining in at the time: an elderly couple sharing a blended strawberry margarita, a single mom calming her fussy children, and a family of four devouring their food quietly. Similar to most days at 4 o’clock, I didn’t have many demanding responsibilities that needed attending to.
Leaning against the counter, Nacho, a co-worker of mine, approached me in his pristinely ironed white button-up shirt and slick black dress pants. I smiled at him, and he promptly snapped his hips back and forth, popping them in time with the music. He also clapped his hands, surprisingly not turning any of our customers’ heads. I burst out laughing and sort of followed suit, swaying with the groovy Mexican music. Nacho shouted, “Aye Whitey!” and laughed as well. Whitey was a nickname I obtained being the only white boy working there at the time.
Shortly after this, an older gentleman hobbled in the direction of the bathroom, cane clacking the ground and grunting. He wasn’t an ordinary elderly person; the ends of both his legs were prosthetics. The prosthetics creaked and skidded across the tan tiled floor. This didn’t strike me as especially unique or inspire anything within me. Nacho, however, experienced something I think many Americans seldom experience: gratitude. After the bathroom door squeezed shut behind the gentleman, Nacho snapped his head toward me, waving his pointer finger in my direction saying, “That’s the difference between the United States and Mexico. Here in America, he can live pretty normally; in Mexico that wouldn’t be possible. Society would cast him out, and he wouldn’t be able to receive that treatment, something reserved for the very wealthy.”
Nacho scurried over and removed a few dirty plates from the elderly couple’s table. Speechless, I reflected on what Nacho said. His perspective shattered the “perfect” and privileged reality in which I lived. I slumped against the counter, my breath suffocating me as I realized how often I take for granted the simple things. Living in America, I have been too blind to notice.
The rest of the night I studied each customer, like someone looking for treasure, searching for more things that I had taken for granted. A new light now illuminates my life. Before, I was using a dim flashlight, not wanting to see reality. Nacho handed me a lantern, exposing every crevice, every impurity, but also everything I should have gratitude and thankfulness for.