By: Jessica Scire, Guest Blogger
Anyone who knows me, knows that my family owns a family-run deli/catering business in Boston that I always refer to as “the store.” (To anyone who doesn't know me: my family owns a family-run deli/catering business in Boston that I always refer to as “the store”). Since I was 13 years old I have taken part in the store ringing people up at the register, stocking the Pepsi chests, displaying the sub rolls, cleaning the floors, windows, and counters, etc. At this innocent age I was so proud to work there and as a result, I worked my ass off. I wanted to prove to others that even though I was the owner's daughter I could work just as hard, if not harder than anyone else. In addition to proving my worth, I was also incredibly proud. The store is about 90 years old and has been an East Boston staple. My great grandfather started it off as a little grocery market, my papa introduced cold cuts and cold sandwiches, and my dad grew it to be a catering business, using some of my Nana's amazing recipes--those of which my dad has never changed over the years. We are truly the epitome of a family business. My papa was the neighborhood dad and over the years by dad has taken on that role. We are a family made up of loyalty, perseverance, kindness, and strength--inside and outside the store.
As I grew a little older, I would work catering jobs for my dad as a waitress as well as continue in my role as a busy bee around the store--still carrying the same perseverance and pride. At these waitressing jobs, I would refill chafing dishes, serve food, and clean up tables. My practice carrying boxes of tomatoes, racks of soda bottles, and seemingly endless amounts of stock prepped me for the fast paced, tireless world of waitressing.
During one of these jobs, I waitressed for an 8th grade graduation. The students and their families came to a local hall, ate dinner and dessert, watched a slideshow of their years as friends, and enjoyed their time together as a class one last time. At these events, once the buffet is ready, it's non-stop. As I plated several chicken, broccoli, and zitis I, naturally, had to refill the chafing dish. I did my notoriously known speedy walk (that my sister makes fun of me for) to grab another tray from the kitchen and came back within seconds to refill. As I carried out the tray, a father of an (I assume) graduate looked at me with an arrogant-type grin and mockingly said out loud in a forced foreign accent: “Strong like ox!” I quickly, confidently, and gracefully replied, “That's the only way to be.”
I started thinking and over-thinking (as I typically do) what was behind this man’s intentions. Was he trying to be funny? Sarcastic? Imply that I was masculine? Was he trying to imply anything at all? I will never know. But one thing that I do know is that I will never feel bad, feel embarrassed, or apologize for being strong. Ever.
The store has been strong through the years encountering break-ins, stealing, rude customers, saying goodbye to dear friends, and saddest of all, recently losing the matriarch of the store: my Nana. And through all this, the store still stands tall, loyal, proud, and strong.
My arms are not the most trim or slender, but they are strong as they help me in my daily role as a pre-k teacher to carry skinned-kneed 5-year-olds and on the weekends to carry hot, heavy trays of homemade food. My legs are not the most toned and do the chub rub (you all know what I'm talking about!) but they are strong as they take me where I need to go and put me on the right path. I have been beaten down, heart broken, and stolen from, and yet I, too, still stand tall, loyal, proud, and strong. I guess it's in our blood. I am proud of where I come from and the qualities I have inherited. What qualities are reflective of you and your family? What traits are you so honored to have that you would never change it for the world? I challenge you to not only think about it, but also take time to appreciate it. I do. Yes, I am strong like an ox and damn proud of it.
Jessica Scire is a 26-year-old woman living in the Boston area. She teaches Pre-K in Boston, MA and is currently working towards her M.Ed. Jess is a co-leader of the I AM THAT GIRL: Boston Chapter. She loves spending time with her family and friends, reading, laughing, playing with her dog, going for walks, and eating ice cream.
Featured image via neuro.questionsthatmatter.info