Originally uploaded by wacky doodler.
So yeah, my waitress career is over and I'm a real writer. Almost. But at least for a couple more months, I've got to keep the grats flowing in order to pay the bills. This Sunday, after a delirious week of walking around my house being impressed with myself and insisting others do the same, I returned to the maelstrom. That's right: waitress world. At work, the only thing impressive about me is that I can deliver a martini straight up without spilling a single drop, and I'm known for keeping my tables clear.
My first problem with my not so triumphant return occurred when I tried to get dressed. Never had that uniform look so shabby. My black pants are pilled and frayed around the bottom, and I don't have a single tux shirt that's not stained with au jus or cocktail sauce. And those ugly ass shoes! Only after I photographed them did I realize how bad they looked. So while I might save them to hang over my head as some kind of Damacles Sword, I was definitely not putting them on my feet again.
Instead, I looked around my closet and found an old pair that looked practically new. Why had I walked around in those horrendous holey clunkers when I had another perfectly good pair of ugly black shoes sitting in the closet? I laced them up, and put on my bow tie.
The event of the day was a Greek Christening, which is really more like a wedding with music and great ethnic dancing, which always sends me running into the kitchen to practice my moves. While a couple of the servers complained about the music, I felt like it carried me through the day--even when my feet began to hurt in my cramped shoes. About an hour into the shift, I remembered why I had tossed the practically new pair into the corner of my closet. They didn't fit!
Meanwhile, some people looked at me kind of funny--me and my fancy book deal. Not my friends, of course, and not my favorite dishwashers, who don't know about book deals and couldn't care less, but some people.
My boss, for instance, the one who always winces when she looks at my hair, especially during frizzy season. "Curly hair is always such a problem, isn't it? Maybe you could cut it really short," she says, though it's obvious that, in her eyes the only solution for hair like mine is to shave it bald. But aside from such helpful suggestions, she's largely unaware that "the staff" has a life beyond the uniform.
Anyway, a couple of times I caught her looking me up and down. Fairly quickly, she seemed to decide that I was as unimpressive and frizzy headed as I'd always been.
"Do you think you could set up the place card table?" she said in place of hello.
Around the middle of the shift, however, she cracked. "So I heard you sold your book. Congratulations."
"Thank you," I said, smiling politely, despite the fact that at that point, my pinched feet were my only reality.
"So is it at Barnes and Noble?" she asked.
"Well, no. Actually, it takes some time to publish it. It won't be out for more than a year."
"Oh," she said, looking at me dubiously.
Then she went off to cut the cake. Immediately, the lady cook who loves to watch the cake being cut, was at her side. There's something about watching as the cake is sliced and distributed onto plates that brings out the lady cook's voluble side.
When I came in to get a tray of cake, she was talking about a letter she'd gotten this week from her son in Iraq. I could tell she must have read it over many times. She recited it almost verbatim.
The boss winced uncomfortably and concentrated doggedly on the cake. She seemed to be hoping that if she made no response, the cook would eventually be quiet.
No dice. When I came back for a second tray, the cook was still talking about her son. She related all his clothing sizes. Large shirt. Size 30 pants. 8 1/2 shoes. Medium boxers. Only wears white socks. Every week, she said, she takes all his clothes out of the drawers and rewashes them, then folds them and puts them back. She doesn't know why.
The boss rolled her eyes. Later, she said she didn't think she'd cut the cake again.
"Honestly, I don't know how you guys put up with it. That woman never stops talking."
"People like her have been the best part of the job for me," I said.
But the boss was already walking away. "Do you think you could get a spray bottle and wipe down that counter?"
"Yup. Right away."