ode to my cranky bitch waitress and my gay asian waiter.

16 Jun

Tomorrow marks the end of an era, because it is the last time that Charlie, Nicole and I will ever work together. They’ve both moved on to greener pastures (that’s not a death reference, is it?) and gotten themselves career-building jobs that smartly have nothing to do with the restaurant business. Yes, it’s possible that both of them will fail miserably and come crawling back, begging for their old schedule and maybe a couple of extra shifts to cover the newly acquired rent that they have to pay since they prematurely moved out of their cheap/free/relative-owned housing before deciding if they were good enough at their fancy pants job to hack it. But chances are that this is it (since it’s actually not possible at all that they’ll fail seeing as Charlie and Nicole are perfectly suited and prepared [by me] to go off into the world and leave their mark). Gone is the banter between the three of us about which new server looks like a ho. Gone are the days of sorting and classifying gossip. Gone are the arguments, the trash talking about each other and then denying it, the photo sessions at random bars, the laughter, the tears…. um wait, I’m not the gay one? Oh yeah. I forgot. What I’m trying to say is that it’s really weird that they’re not gonna be at work with me, and that nobody who I’ve been close with in recent years is left on the payroll, and everyone is new and irritating, and once again I’ve been left all alone (with my regular husband and work husband and the rest of the staff. But you know what I mean).

Today Nicole and I were eating lunch and she asked me “How do you feel about the Sophomore Class?” I wish this new group of servers was only the sophomore class. I surpassed the Super Seniors before my Bat Mitzvah was over. When you hear people talking about the turnover rate at restaurants, you forget that some people aren’t going anywhere. I’m that people.

This isn’t the first time that a staff has turned over nearly completely and left me starting over, learning lessons, vowing to never get attached ever ever ever again. It has always happened and it always will.

The vicious cycle.

One day there’s this group of tightknit homies who spend all of their time at work, and often out of work, together. And then the next day, two quit, one got fired, one went away to school and suddenly you’re left with one or two lonely veterans and a bunch of new annoying people. And then the annoying people start to grow on you, and the conversations begin to be a little more casual, and then they’re taking place at a bar after work, and then at the beach on your day off, and then one more time, like clockwork, they’re off to the next stop on their resumé.

Sometimes it’s on good terms, and you say you’re going to keep in close touch. You meet up once or twice, but your schedules are conflicting. Suddenly you see photos of their kids on Facebook and they’re graduating elementary, then middle, then high school and all you can write is “Wow. Time sure does fly. Hope you’re well…”

Most of the time, probably 85%, the terms are not okay. It’s an abrupt firing or “I quit!” and suddenly the people who you came to trust and learned to be yourself around turn into dark versions of themselves in your eyes, and vice versa. And then, as quick as they filled out their application in the first place, they no longer exist in your world (until you start writing a blog, of course).

The fact of the matter is, the type of work relationship I have with my buddies could be my last. Charlie and Nicole started at the restaurant before they could legally drink. They were kids who were trying to make some cash after classes ended.  I was just a little bit older than them, and I wasn’t married and I didn’t have kids or a mortgage payment. I watched the Disney Channel. But things have changed. I’ve graduated to ABC Family and have things like responsibilities and life insurance policies and a firmer grasp on my temper. Charlie went through 75,000 hairstyles and bottles of hair product and is this confident and motivated Asian braniac (who still can’t drive). Nicole had nightly near-fist fights with Harry for rolling her eyes too much (now this only happens like 2 times a week instead of 5). They have both offered me their shoulders to lean on so many times that I long ago stopped doubting whether they truly cared or were just trying to get the best shifts. But now when I hire servers who are too young to drink, I’m way too old to have anything in common with them (except my occasional Disney Channel marathons). They don’t even know who the Stone Temple Pilots are. Forget that, they consider “Friends” historical television.

When I was 8 years old I looked up at the servers at my parents’ first restaurant and thought that I’d never get to be so tall or be talented enough to carry a tray. Then I learned how to wait tables and all I wanted was to be invited to hang out with them after work. By the time I went to college I was the epicenter of the social scene, making friends with all the wrong employees and learning my lesson over and over again by getting ditched and used. Now I’ve outgrown them, and I’m one of the moms, tsk-ing in the corner at how careless and lazy all these kids are. Oh, and somewhere in there I met Harry. He was the first person who ever stuck around (other than this Salvadorian Herman who has technically known me the longest, as in since I was like 10) and I think I scored pretty fuckin’ big. I spent so much of my childhood and young adulthood feeling constantly alone, and now suddenly there’s someone handsome sharing all the gains and losses with me. Because even though he won’t admit it, and maybe he doesn’t even realize, Harry is really really really gonna miss Nicole.


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