Walk into Bouré, the Cajun-influenced restaurant on the Oxford, Miss. square, and you may just run into Jami Steen. Better yet, she may be your waitress.
In the video below, you’ll get some of the answers to the question, “Who is Jami Steen?” She’s a 21-year-old girl from a small, southern town called Seminary, Miss. She was one of the few people from her graduating class to attend a four-year college; which is what brought her to Oxford. Steen enrolled at Ole Miss after graduating and has been here ever since.
Jami worked at a local eatery, Phillip’s Grocery, before starting as a hostess at Bouré. Standing at a podium just wasn’t enough for her though. She wanted to make more money and be busier. So she worked extremely hard, and exercised some patience, to show that she was ready to serve at Bouré.
After a few months, she finally got the word she was moving up to server. In the nick of time, too, because she was starting the fall semester of her junior year and was told by her dad that she must meet his requirements or he would not pay for school.
Well, as one thing always leads to another, Jami found that it better suited her to take a semester off of school. This ended in her dad refusing to pay for school, putting the debt on her, and forcing Jami to work full-time.
At first, the job was exciting. It’s easy to make very good money in a restaurant like Bouré that often has around 500 customers on Friday and Saturday nights. But, like any job, it gets tiring. Her life became consumed by the job and its demands. She slowly started being less social, she was more tired, she had more responsibilities, and she had a schedule that was always subject to change. The real world isn’t easy for anyone, let alone a 21-year-old all on her own.
This isn’t to say that Jami didn’t appreciate her job and love it despite all of this. Her co-workers became a sort of family to her. She recalls having bad days and showing up to work and a co-worker had brought her a treat of chocolate covered coffee beans. And the time her manager gave Jami the keys to her car to go home and shower in between shifts because Jami’s car wasn’t working. These are the moments that make working, and working hard, worth it for Jami.
What’s interesting about this story is seeing the other side of things. When you walk into a restaurant you don’t look at your server and think, ”Huh, I wonder what your life is like,” or “How did you get here?” Jami shows us her perspective. What it’s like to serve people her own age and feel like they look down on her for it. And walking up to a table and seeing a 4-year-old and realizing he is your boss for the next hour or so. It’s a humbling experience. One that she feels everyone can benefit from. And honestly, she’s probably right.
Full-time Jami isn’t the story of a girl who cried a river and drowned the whole world. No, it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s the story of a girl who took charge and owned HER own world.
Story and video by Sammy Rippon