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Finding My Confidence Working in Food Service With a Stutter

On a stuttering community Facebook page, someone recently posted if anyone works in the food service industry and how they handle stuttering. This question was a great opportunity to reflect on how far I have come with my stuttering.

For 11 years, I have worked at a popular and busy steakhouse. Starting at the age of 16, I was a hostess, busser and food expeditor. I really enjoyed being an expeditor because of the fast-paced environment  and making sure everything is executed correctly.

However, the fast-paced environment wreaked havoc on my ability to speak quickly. Servers and cooks would be shouting things they needed, and I was responsible for being the middleman. Sometimes people would be impatient with me and tell me to hurry up once I started to stutter. Even being a hostess was difficult with my stutter. I was the first person they saw once they entered the restaurant, and I was worried I gave us a bad impression when I couldn’t even say “Hello, how are you today?” Confused looks began to be the norm.

Answering phone calls was the most dreaded part of my job. While taking down a reservation, one guest even laughed and asked me if I was drunk. Even 10 years later, that comment continues to hurt me. Being made fun of and hearing rude comments about my speech was very hard for a teenage girl. Most of the time I would find an empty, secluded booth to cry. Once or twice I even faked being sick so I could go home because my speech was so bad.

I am now 27 and still working at the same steakhouse along with my daytime career. I am lucky to have found my confidence. Maybe it’s just growing into adulthood, accepting my stutter, or a combination of the two but for the past couple of years, I have never felt more comfortable with myself. People even compliment me on how confident I appear, walking tall with my head held high. I never thought I would be comfortable with saying “I am a stutterer,” but I am. I see it as something that makes me unique rather than an impediment.

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