300: Serving with a smile

Briana Zamora

Each day, hundreds of students flood Teji’s — a narrow, dimly lit restaurant — and place their order with Brian Beavers. No one knows that the quiet, polite man filling orders day after day suffers from irreparable brain damage, memory loss and crippling injuries. 

“Guess you could say I’m damaged goods, huh?” Beavers said.  

Years ago, on a quiet road, Beavers’ accelerator pedal got stuck under his floor mat, and he careened head-on into a truck. 

Beavers remembers waking up from a coma six months later. Disoriented and afraid, he ripped out the tubes connecting him to life support systems. This reaction caused life-threatening blood loss and sent him into another coma. 

He woke up two months later strapped down, weighing in at half his original weight. Doctors told him he would never walk or speak again.

Beavers worked diligently to prove them wrong. He dedicated himself to rehabilitation and visited therapists, specialists and pathologists — until the money ran out. 

Luckily, by that time in his recovery, Beavers could head to work. Beavers’ friend offered him a job at her newly opened restaurant, despite his disabilities. And so he took a job waiting tables at Teji’s.

Hovering behind the register, soft-spoken and reserved, Beavers manages to pass along a few kind words to every customer he helps.

Even though the left side of his body is partially paralyzed, Beavers holds doors open for strangers, smiles at passersby and plans to donate his hair to a nonprofit organization that makes wigs for chemotherapy patients. 

“Bad stuff happens to good people all the time, but it’s what those good people let that bad stuff do to them that determines their happiness,” Beavers said. “And I’ve learned you’ve just got to love life, not hate life and not be angry. I could be so angry, but every day I choose not to.”