Yes, I forget to change a tablecloth. Fortunately this was one of my jobs as a high school student so I wasn’t struggling to put dinner on the table, but it still serves as an important and timeless lesson.

When I was 14 years old I worked at an upscale French restaurant as a waiter and busboy. All of the tables had white tablecloths on them. We had one rule we had to follow when it came to these table cloths. After a customer was done eating and left, you always had to clean up his silverware, throw the tablecloth in the laundry and replace with a fresh tablecloth.

One night I was finishing up my shift around 9pm, eager to clean up and clock out as I had tickets to the 9:15 showing of the new X-Men movie with my “hot date.”

At 8:59pm a customer came in right before closing. He sat down, ordered a glass of sparking water, and checked his phone for 20 minutes while I frowned impatiently. I kid you not, this guy was sent down by the gods to punish me for some past deed I had committed.

As soon as he paid and left I jetted out the door as quickly as I could to catch the movie. Changing the tablecloth didn’t cross my mind as he had only ordered water and it wasn’t even apparent that someone had used the table, let alone the tablecloth.

The next morning I came in and my manager gave me a peculiar look, turned to me and said, “Why did you bother coming into work today? You didn’t change the table cloth last night. Pack up your stuff and get out of here.”

So that was the first time I was fired and it was totally worth it.

That place sucked, but it was also a great lesson. I learned to not be lazy and that details matter.

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