It was pooring down outside, so Sanjay decided to dip into the ramen shop. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one thinking about heading in. The place was packed for a weekday.
He jostled through the crowd and finally made it to the counter. “One miso ramen, please.”
The cashier took his order and Sanjay turned to find a seat. Every table was taken and there were people milling about, looking for a place to sit.
He spotted a girl sitting alone at a table in the corner and he made his way over to her. “Is this seat taken?” he asked, gesturing to the empty chair across from her.
She looked up at him and shook her head. “No, it’s not taken.”
Sanjay sat down and introduced himself. “I’m Sanjay.”
“I’m Devi,” she said, shaking his hand.
They made small talk as they waited for their food and Sanjay soon found out that Devi was a student at the local university. She was studying medicine and she wanted to be a doctor.
“That’s really admirable,” Sanjay said. “I’m sure you’ll make an excellent doctor.”
Devi smiled bashfully and looked down at her hands. “Thank you.”
Just then, the waitress arrived with their food. She seemed to be in a lot of stress.
“Is everything alright?” Sanjay asked her.
She let out a weary sigh. “It’s just been really busy today. We’re short-staffed because one of our servers didn’t show up for their shift.”
“That sounds rough,” Sanjay said sympathetically. “Let me know if you need any help.”
The waitress thanked him and went on her way.
Sanjay and Devi began to eat their food and they continued to make small talk. Sanjay found himself really enjoying Devi’s company. She was intelligent, funny, and easy to talk to.
Before long, they had finished their food and the waitress came by to clear their plates. She looked frazzled and there was a line of people waiting to order at the counter.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help?” Sanjay asked her. “I don’t mind lending a hand.”
The waitress’s face lit up. “Thank you so much! I would really appreciate it.”
“No problem,” Sanjay said as he got up from his seat. He turned to Devi. “I’ll be back in a bit.”
Sanjay got behind the counter to the surprise of the owner. “What are you doing?”
“I’m helping out,” Sanjay said. “It’s no problem.”
The owner hesitated for a moment before handing him an apron. “Thank you.”
“Hey everyone, we’ve just discovered some rats in the kitchen!” he yelled loudly to the queue after clearing his throat. “So we will be closed for the day!”
Immediately, everyone started to leave and Sanjay could see the relief on the waitress’s face.
“Thank you so much,” she said to Sanjay. “You really saved me.”
“No problem,” Sanjay said. “Glad I could help.”
He started to take off his apron but the owner stopped him. “Hey, do you want to work here part-time?”
Sanjay thought for a moment. It wasn’t what he had planned on doing with his day, but it would be nice to have a part-time job. Plus, he really liked the people here.
“Sure,” he said. “I’d love to.”
The owner smiled. “Welcome to the team.”
Sanjay put his apron back on and went to go find Devi. He saw her packing up her things to leave.
“Hey, I got a job here,” he said. “So I’ll be working for a while.”
“You’re always busy with work” Devi said. “It’s time you choose between me and your boss.”
Sanjay was taken aback by her words. He hadn’t thought about it that way before.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to neglect you.”
“I know,” Devi said. “But I deserve better.”
With that, she turned and walked out of the shop, leaving Sanjay standing there alone.
He realized then that he had been taking Devi for granted. He always assumed she would be there, waiting for him, but he never made an effort to spend time with her.
He decided then that he would make more of an effort to balance his work and his personal life. From then on, he would make sure to put Devi first.