I work at a restaurant now. It’s tough and hard and I hate it. I took an average of 2,000 steps per day, while working my previous job. That didn’t include exercise or shopping. Just an average day – 2,000 steps.
Now I average about 24,000 steps per work day. Mostly because I am working doubles (12/13 hour shifts with a short break) and partly because of covid standards, everything is inconveniently located in the kitchen.
It’s a mental struggle for me to go to work everyday and some days it’s even a physical one. It’s 3 am in Dallas right now, I can’t sleep because my legs are tired. The pain between my feet and my thighs is so great that I can’t sleep.
I’ve worked here for over a month and keep trying to pinpoint why this job is so much more taxing than previous restaurant jobs. One of the managers chalks it up to Corona virus and basically that’s all.
We have difficult customers. We also have incredibly rude ones. It is not uncommon that we don’t get tipped on a check and needless to say it is very common to get a low, infuriatingly low tip.
Tonight, a coworker had a party of young ladies celebrating a birthday. Their total was $250, he got a $17 tip.
Let me just also say that we get paid $2.13 an hour as our salary.
I had a party of 10… My third seating at this table for the night. Their total was $350. I got a 10% tip. I was disappointed it wasn’t a 20% tip but at this restaurant people don’t pay servers $70 for their service and that’s okay. I was happy with $35.
I had two standout tables today. The first was early in the dinner rush. A mom, dad and their 6 year old son. The kid was full of energy, which makes me nervous because kids who are full of energy at restaurants tend to run around or make messes, something I wasn’t in the mood for since I had my first seating at the 10 too, along with 3 other tables all at the same time.
This little boy had a big spirit though and he attracted me to him. The first thing he asked me “are you allowed to kiss here?” Excuse me?? I looked for his parents to intervene and decode the message I surely got wrong. The mom made him repeat it and started laughing, she said she and her husband kissed in the parking lot and the little boy said “you can’t do that here! You have to do that at home!”
Then he turned to me and said “Rock. Paper. Scissors.” And made a fist resting on his other palm, which is the international sign for rock, paper scissors showdown… Now.
So we played. He counted. 1,2,3, go….. With out even unfurling his fist, or bothering to look at mine he shouts “I WIN!”
I was so busy I couldn’t even take a sip of water during that rush yet throughout his meal we played 15 rounds of rock, paper, scissors. I won 3 rounds at the very end, assuredly because his mom told him he had to let me win something.
The second memorable moment came late in the evening when I was sat a 1 top. A guy, about my age sat alone at a table for dinner. When I approached him I was met not by friendly casual conversation but short and direct requests.
I had FOUR co-workers come up to me during his stay in the restaurant to tell me he was weird and made them uncomfortable. When he finished his meal he left everything stacked and in order for me to pick up. He left $2 crumpled on the table as a tip for his $30 check. I thought it was nice he left something at all.
A coworker came up to me after I cleared his table and as I was changing my gloves by the bar. He walked back in to the restaurant and made eye contact with me and headed straight for me. I assumed he may have forgotten something. My coworker grabbed my arm as I was about to approach him and said, “he looks like he’s about to open fire.”
I looked at her with confusion and proceeded to meet the man half way. He pulled out another crumpled dollar bill and handed it to me while saying “I found another dollar, I want you to have it.”
I smiled and thanked him. I turned to my coworker and told her what happened and that he probably has Asperger’s. She felt awful for having said such a thing, I could see her mood drop immediately.
I get angry at work over a lot of small, petty, insignificant stuff. I had the realization tonight that I’m embarrassed of my situation. I am embarrassed to be 35 and basically starting over, again.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with starting over, at any age. If you were to come to me at the age of 60 to tell me you were going to start over, I would encourage you to do it because of Thoreau.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’ and go to the grave with the song still in them,” as misquoted by the NY Times. The part about the song unsung isn’t in the immediate quote and since I’ve never been able to make it through Walden, I don’t know if he said that at all. However, how true the sentiment is none the less .
Especially now as we all sharing a form of desperation. Even if only for the way things were in February. Let alone last year, or when we were children and filled with the innocence and joy like my 6 year old customer from earlier.
One can’t wish away their past anymore than one can wish into their future. That’s just not how this works.
Here is another part from the same excerpt by Thoreau: A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work.
If my heart were speaking, it would say that no, it’s not okay to sacrifice life for a paycheck. It would say to play rock, paper, scissors 15 times with someone who has no idea how to play, just to see his face light up when he exclaims “I win!” It should be noted he was equally excited when he exclaimed “you win!”
It’s a tough time right now which has been added to already full plates and despite breaking points. I don’t have a big lesson or a plea for youto sing your unsung songs. I just wanted you to know what I was thinking at, now, 4 am in Dallas.
I’ll be at work at 10:30 am tomorrow and will leave around midnight. I’m too exhausted to sing my song but… Well, here we are.