To Serve

She is tired now picking her black kick pleat skirt off the floor of her bedroom while gazing at a bed she seems to use no more than 4 hours a night. Tucking her white men’s shirt into the waist of her panty hose that has seen too many days and too many soup spills while slipping the noose of her daffy duck embellished tie around her aching neck, she is ready.

She is tense wrapping the too big white expanse of heavy linen around her waist where the hem causes a contrast between the black skirt skimming her thighs and the rounded knobs of her creaking knees. She shoves a plastic leather ticket book into the deep pocket that she hopes will bear the fruit of her nightly torture. She scrounges in her fake leopard purse that has seen too many days and constantly smells of the grease of where it hides beneath an ancient and decrepit shove-it-all table that is tattooed with cigarette burns of many a weary soul. She finds the two pens that will be guarded over as if a pit bull has invaded her soul.

She winks at the small figure of maleness who stares from his perch of overturned milk crates at the scraping and slicing of the prep from hell. She knows that all too soon this little person will soon venture out to make his own hell but for the moment she indulges his hero worship of a monster in checks that can terrorize and beat down the strongest. She warns him of the evil one from the front of the house. The commandant of the kitchen promises he will teach.

She plates the never ending supply of ready to go grasses and ferns. Over and over she plunges her pained hands into the icy depths that contain the work of the prep-devil. Her freezing fingertips scream with two more trays to go. She gasps moving the cart that makes moving a leather couch a breeze to roll it into its place of honor awaiting the grabbing hands that will drown its occupant in creamy decadence.

She sighs as she scurries to bread the quadruple sats at the never-ending fourtops. She moves with the speed of a cougar and wrestles the stacked baskets of calm-em-down delectables with the hard and icy grease that the perps of her pain will spread on their crusty morsels.

She passes the smirking head of his kingdom knowing that he sat 16 at her charge to test her and to punish her for her audacity to ask for a night away. Ticket after ticket will spit towards the commandant in checks. Order up will taunt her for the next six hours. Artfully arranging the hot and scalding plates that continuously scar her hands, she hoists the circular burden and raises her leg to kick at the offensive swinging door leading her to perps of their own personal pleasure. A smile claws at her jaws while she nods and hustles.

She bears the brunt of all that is wrong this night of hard knocks. She smiles, she entertains, she fakes it, all the while the slurping mandibles clack around her. Her mind tabulates the insult of the 5% that is deigned to her from the perp that entertained himself while rolling his nicotined stained fingertip along her ass all while complaining that she was not fast enough, not happy enough, not good enough to be in his presence other than to serve.

Her head bows while the steam rolls across her cheeks and stings her teary eyes. She receives a smile, a nod, a moment of recognition as a fellow soldier in this nightly battle of routines. She knows that the screams and shouts, the commandant orders and broken crockery will result in the one joy of the night.

She drags on that joy. A long inhale of the first cigarette of the night, while sitting on the oil coated back stoop with the one in checks , who takes long tokes on his own form of relaxation, he who yelled the loudest but is teaching her son all he knows. She relishes in the fact that all is well. And that she forgot to eat.

She is tired now. She pats the full pocket that is to be transferred into the expense envelopes of her life. She picks up the sleeping sweaty figure that did not take his eyes off the commandant in checks and walks to her car. See you tomorrow – we’ll do it all over again.

She is weary because she knows its true.

* * * * * *

I worked as a waitress for many years while holding down other jobs. My son Steve was the little figure and he hid in the corner of the restaurant where I worked. He idolized the chef and Peter was very kind to him. Now he is a chef as well.

Being a waitress is one of the hardest and sometimes most emotionally demanding job. Be kind to your server.



5 Responses

  1. Hey Jude–any type of restaurant work is the hardest type of work to be employed in. Try working in the kitchen of a fast food restaurant cooking hamburgers, french fries, and then rushing forward to the fountain station to make cokes, shakes, freezes, ice cream cones, and take customer’s orders. I worked in a Fosters Freeze fast food restaurant for eight years, moving up from french fry cook to night supervisor, closing the store. It is certainly one of the hardest jobs you will ever have.

  2. I’ve done a little of that myself. I worked in fast food in college, and as a boy, I was the soda jerk in the drug store in the middle of town. Great write!

  3. Thanks John and Eric for responding. Work in any type of food service industry is grueling. My experience is in the restaurant biz where is gets in your blood and when you stop you miss it. My son’s arms are scarred with grill marks but he would not fathom doing anything else.

  4. This was a wonderful post… I’ve worked for years delivering pizzas, trying to work my way through college with young kids, while my husband is constantly deployed. I always wonder if anyone I deliver to has ever been in my shoes, and knows the grueling tasks that await me each day. Thank you for sharing this!!!

  5. I do believe the majority of good people know how hard the food industry is. Pizza Delivery is one of them as well. People sometimes forget that besides the hurry hurry attitude of the pizza places, the driver in most cases also has to pay for their own gas. So if you order a pizza, remember most live on their tips and add an extra buck or two. Thanks for posting!

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