Why I Am Here at the Love Dog
by White Bear
All around me I see people discouraged with the world of ‘work.’ The economic situation seems to have generated a population of us that are dissatisfied with the jobs we are able to get, frustrated by being paid too little for our time to do what we want in the world, and angry at being ‘trapped’ into taking whatever we can get to put food on the table, clothes on our backs and gas in the car. I want to create something with The Love Dog Café that takes a giant step toward changing that.
The economic system we labor under is tough. Prices for our ingredients (food, utilities, paper goods, etc.) are going up every week now. Certainly every six months it costs more to run this business than it did before. We live in a community with a population that is limited in some ways economically speaking. If we raised our prices to reflect our rising costs, soon only a few of the people that live here could afford to eat here. Maybe that would be “good business.” Maybe that would take care of the problem if all we were doing was selling food, but that solution wouldn’t feel good to me. It wouldn’t keep me here. You see, our product isn’t food.
We sell food here, that’s true, but our product is love and healing. We put out high quality food that is beautiful and has really good intentional energy in it. We serve that food in a caring way in a space that radiates warmth and nurturing. People feel that. That is what they “buy” from us, and that is where my passion for this business is centered. People leave here feeling better than when they came in. Their bodies and spirits are nurtured. They feel a little more important by being noticed quickly and being seen and heard fully. Maybe our music lifts their spirits, our friendly manner brightens their day, our attentiveness to any complaint or discomfort they have helps them feel more secure and visible in the world. They leave feeling fed and maybe their day becomes better and they are in turn more able to touch others.
My goal is to have this be a place where we come to “fill up”; where we are a part of something useful to our community that gives us a sense of belonging, support, acceptance, empowerment and hope for the future. We all get that from one another to whatever degree we are willing to put that into the system. We can create our own reality. I want to create jobs that fill a person with pride of accomplishment. I want to create a company of people that beats the economic crunch by using efficient teamwork to make our income go farther and be “enough.” I want to create a business where people choose to work because it is satisfying, rewarding economically, and a source of incoming happiness on life’s balance sheet.
I believe we can change the bigger world by making our small world reflect what we want to see “out there.” We can create a restaurant where a customer leaves happy with their experience and a little better for it. An employee goes home from the job tired but full of a feeling of accomplishment and a little better for that. Love and healing. We can only put that out there if we have it available to “sell”. So the way we work together is not only important for our customers (our community) but it is crucial to our selves. The way we go about doing what we do has to fill us up too.
Willingness and choice have a lot to do with love and healing and prosperity and life! We have all experienced the difference between working with someone who is here willingly and by choice, and working with someone who is resigned to be here, who feels no choice about taking this job, who would rather be anywhere else. The difference is remarkable!
A co-worker who is willing and happy to work here makes the job better for everyone. The customers notice and tips go up. When we love what we are doing and believe in what we are selling, we move more food and income goes up. Suddenly there is enough money for raises or a new appliance that makes our work easier. We feel our own work become more enjoyable as someone else beside us works energetically and completes tasks fully and efficiently and cheerfully. Work becomes a place where our own spirits are lifted up and we are supported to do the best that we can do. We leave at the end of the day tired but feeling satisfied and positive. We take this energy out the door and into the larger world.
A co-worker who is here unwillingly, who feels they do not choose to be here, makes things hard for everyone. There is a feeling of doing as little as possible to get by. Tasks are left incomplete for others to finish. Bad feeling grows. Service becomes mechanical instead of heartfelt and the customers notice. Tips go down for everyone. Someone who is just “putting in their time” doesn’t really try to sell the extras (desserts, a glass of wine, a special). Our income goes down. Money gets tighter and tighter. A general feeling of stress and ill-will develops and little things start to bug us. We complain about the job even when we aren’t on the job! Divisiveness and unrest build among us. Little factions form and undermine any team-building efforts. Our favorite part of the day becomes getting out of here. We go home feeling mean-spirited and fight with the clerk at the store, or our partners, or our kids…..well, you see how this can grow.
I believe it is possible to change the world with love and healing. Every human interaction, no matter how small, can have significant impact on the larger world. Your interaction with a customer, however brief, may be the thing that changes their own inner landscape for the better. You may serve up kindness with breakfast and someone who has had a bad attitude since they woke up that morning may take that in. Later in the day maybe they feel more calm and allow that oncoming car to merge into their lane on the freeway instead of cutting them off thereby avoiding an accident that would go on to harm others. In the same way, every interaction you have with a co-worker is significant. I believe we can fill each other up as we work and I believe our lives can be better as a result of working here. I know the key to this is willingness and choice. I want to work with people who want to be here.
Very few people choose restaurant work as a lifelong career. Most restaurant employees are just passing through on their way to something else that they really want to do in the world. I feel it can make us rich to share in someone else’s dreams and life goals…to support each other’s big journey. I know that the quality of the energy that we walk with each day on our way to our future goals will be the quality of the energy that is with us when we get to where we are going.
So. I am here at The Love Dog because it is a place where I can continue to learn and grow. I am here because it is a place where there is plenty of opportunity to make the world a better place. I am here because I really know that whatever ripples go out from this work we do here, go out in all directions and we can make a difference.