Today was a day. A typical summer day for me.
I've gone back to waitressing at my little cafe near the Market. We're getting close to not needing me to take on the seasonal job, but it's quite a bit of money fairly quickly, it gets us caught up on the artistic year if we've fallen behind (as tends to happen - since theater work is notoriously sketchy on pay dates), and it's nice to have a break from creativity for a few months.
My typical day finds me waking up at 4:30, doing my hair and putting on makeup at an hour that feels ridiculous to be in bright lipstick, then leave at 5:05 to catch the 5:22 train from the South side of Seattle to Downtown. It's about a 40 minute ride with no need to park downtown, and gives me a good chunk of time on both ends of my day to read (or sometimes, nap). Then, just after 6:00am, I toodle down to my local big-name coffee shop for a vanilla latte and a chocolate croissant. This is MY time: the reason I get up half an hour early. This is my 20 minutes to ease my way into the day before having to go full blow into customer service. As a former night owl, my inner rhythm has gotten increasingly "morning" geared after many years of early jobs, but I still need some time to wake up before I must be pleasant to anyone. When I lived and worked with my Sister the year out of college, we made a rule. She couldn't speak to me until I'd gotten out of the shower. Better if I had a cup of coffee first, too.
At 6:25 I walk the easy block to work. It takes me half an hour to set up, and the doors open at 7:00. It's a long day for a waitress. The average shift for most servers is 5 hours. My place works me almost 10. The turnover is just under 30 minutes per table, and we stay plenty busy from 7:00-11:00, and sometimes until 1:00. Then we attempt to get the sidework all done in the remaining two hours so that we can sweep, mop, do our checkout and leave as quickly as possible after we close at 3:00.
My 2nd favorite part of the day is the end. I love getting to walk down to the Market and feeling both very French and very Seattle-y, heading to the Market and picking out the evening's vegetable, tomorrow's fruit snack, maybe a few flowers, or a cookie and a used book at the Sanitary Market across the street. Perhaps it was a few too many viewings of Sleepless in Seattle, or the stigma of growing up in the small town a few hours away from "The Big City" which made an exotic day trip of my regular stomping ground. Every day, I get a little thrill.
I like waitressing. There are the usual difficulties: rude demanding customers who can't seem to be aware that there are other people in the restaurant, foreigners who sit too long and tip too little, teenagers who don't know how to tip at all, special orders, and fussy babies. Mostly, though, my day goes buy quickly. People are happy to be eating good food in a quick paced cafe, and getting back to site-seeing. I used to stew a lot more about the difficult tables. But now, other than a minor irritation that lasts until I close out their check, I pretty much roll through my day on an even keel, pocketing my cash when it's all over.
One older guy today made me wish I was the type of person who could sneeze on his food. I'm not. Never have. He and his wife were out for breakfast, and he made a special request order, following each sentence with - RIGHT? "You're going to give me two poached eggs, RIGHT? On an english muffin, RIGHT? And you're going to bring me another english muffin on the side, RIGHT?" I came back to refill his coffee; "That's decaff, RIGHT?" (I'd used my old standbye trick - serving the decaff in a different kind of mug than the regular coffees, to trigger my memory when I went back to refill). Eventually even his wife said, "Honey, she's got it." What I wanted to say was, "Hey. I have two college degrees and started a third. I got a 1380 on my SATs. I can remember decaff for the half hour you're sitting there." But sadly, you can't. They did tip fairly well. I'm thinking his wife made him do it for his poor behavior.
I'd forgotten since last year how much personal maintenance it takes to be walking 10 hours a day. I have a collection of heel creams, cuticle oils, lotions, shea butter body creams, oxfolients, scrubs, and salts. For most of the year they sit in a box in my bedside stand. I'll paint my toenails pretty regularly during the year, but rarely give myself a spa treatment. Then, two weeks into the summer, my heels crack, my tonails rub inside my shoes, my feet blister, and my fingers split open from all of the hand washing, dishwashing, and bleach sprays for the table. I begin a nightly ritual of shea butter cream-and-socks, neosporin and bandaids, and lotion and gloves, trying to get my hands and feet to heal before the next time I have to merge tabasco sauces with splitting fingers. It's not really decadent (and who cares if it is) - just a necessary part of keeping yourself workable.
I'm off now to soak and scrub my callouses.