Actually more like early 3000, but I wanted to write this now, so it's just...numberless
This summer, I quit the job I’d had since 9th grade. It was a great job, and a very large part of my life, even if the manner of my hiring was a bit odd-I went into the store, and explained to the owner, who I’d always joked around a lot with that I wasn’t going to be coming in for a long time because I had to save up money to buy a plane ticket to go visit my best friend. He looked at me for a minute and said “How old are you?” “fourteen” “want a job?” And thus I was hired. It was pretty simple, I came in 3 hours a week, and made salad dressing, and joked with the owner. I kept going like that, and eventually my times went up…..five hours a week, ten, fifteen. In time, I started to learn other names at the restaurant, aside from Mr. Aubrey’s (the man who hired me) I learned Mrs. Stephanie and Mr. Haden were partners with Mr. Aubrey, and that they were married, and that Mrs. Stephanie wanted me to babysit sometimes-so I once in a while ended up holding a baby instead of making salad-dressings at work. I learned the cooks names-they scared me at first, because they were always cursing and yelling, but as I got to know them, I saw how well they meant by all of that, and stopped noticing. Stacey, one of the cooks went out of her way to talk to me, and I was grateful for it. I made necklaces for the cooks, to show my gratitude, and they were pleased by them, and things went well. After a while, Mr. Aubrey hired a man named Randy, who started working with him. Randy was as much fun to talk to as Mr. Aubrey, so I really enjoyed having both of them to talk to while I worked. Mr. Aubrey had heart problems, and quit after 9-11. He had been arguing with Mr. Haden a lot-a thing which always made me want to hide, because I was always the one nearest them, and I felt like my hearing their arguments was wrong. So he said he wanted to just enjoy the rest of his life, and made Mr. Haden buy him out. After that, it was just Randy in charge of the shift I worked. Mr. Haden was not the best manager. We were always running out of important things-I got in the habit of saying we were almost out of something when we had about week’s worth left, just to make sure we would get the new supply in time, although despite that precaution, we often didn’t. But things were still good, we all worked together. I was working more hours, so I had new jobs. Sometimes I’d finish early, and I began helping out with dishes or meal-making or cash-register running. We had fewer people on the night shift now, Mr. Haden didn’t want to spend the money. Things got harder, but we managed. Randy started teaching me about D+D, and I thought it sounded great. My parents wouldn’t let me play, though, because it was dangerous to play D+D. In time, I got to meet Randy’s wife, Leanne, and she started coming in often in the evenings. She used to give me rides home, when it got dark-I never let my parents drive me, because I knew if I did once, they’d drive me everyday, which would be that much less freedom I had. I learned to ride a scooter and started taking that to work, which the cooks all found very funny, and two of them tried it. I worked full time, that summer, Randy talked to Mr. Haden about it for me, and persuaded him. It was great, I enjoyed the lunch rush, and teasing regular customers. And I could read the D+D handbook during my lunch break, because then my parents wouldn’t know-and Randy made sure to bring it for me every day. By now I knew a lot of the regular customers and enjoyed visiting with them when they came in. I kept working evenings, when school came, but things got harder. Mr. Haden kept coming up with more things we had to add to our already long list of things to do, and often it was really pointless things. Even so, I think that was the best year I spent there, because I was getting along really well with everyone there-Angie, Shaqueeta, while she lasted, Mrs. Linda, Stacey, Randy, Ebony, I understood them, so I wasn’t upset when Angie screamed at me-I knew she was actually just being friendly, so I could smile and tease her about it. And I had fun, jumping out and trying to startle them when they came out from the cooler. It was good. I worked two jobs that summer, full time at the school for the deaf, and then from there I’d go straight to the restaurant and do the evening shift. I didn’t want it to end, my life working at this restaurant. But I was going to college, and I couldn’t stay working there, I had a good job at the school for the deaf, and I could take a bus to that job-I couldn’t get to the restaurant to work. So regretfully, a month before the summer ended, I told Mr. Haden that I’d have to be leaving. The immediate result? He added doing dishes to my list of things to do, without taking away anything else. The response of Randy and the cooks to that was something I was incredibly grateful for. Randy started doing little bits of my jobs during the day shift, and Angie helped me a ton with the dishes, while grumbling about how I did too much of Randy’s work already (she and Randy argued a lot). When I left, they had hired a new girl, who I liked, and who seemed like she would work hard. So I didn’t worry too much about my work being done, because I knew she would do it fine. But I miss them all, and I miss having that refuge where I went every day after school, and no matter how bad school had been, it was a safe place to talk about it, and get advice, or just ignore it and be silly. I got off school and work early, a little while back, so I biked down there to get a meal. It was great to see the cooks and Randy again, and Stacey came and talked to me for a while, as did Randy, from behind the counter. Things were basically the same, I even went behind the counter and made my own sno-ball, just like I used to-telling Randy he wasn’t the artiste with them that I was. But it was so empty, because this was no longer my place. I couldn’t slip back into this life. I’m now different Anna, one who is a college student, who can’t ride her scooter there, or bring her dog to try and break Stacey and Ebony of their fear of dogs. When I return there, it’s a memory of me that goes. I haven’t changed, barely at all since coming to college, but one thing that has changed-I no longer work there, I no longer leap out and yell boo to try to startle them, I don’t try to lock Ebony in the cooler anymore, or convince customers that bags are $20, due to being woven from all natural plastic fibers and imported from Peru. It’s someone else who teases customers now, and talks to the little girl Jane, who used to come in and attach herself to me as I worked. I can slip into that life for a little while, when I go back, but it’s just a memory of myself as I was taking the surface for a time. It’s no longer a part of my life as it was. I know that this doesn’t really matter much in the grand scheme of things, and that in time it won’t even matter much to me. It’s a part of life, to leave things behind, and a part of growing up to have to move on. Yet it makes me sad, knowing that this life is no longer mine, and that I have had to grow up and move out of something that was good and an important part of my life. I’ve lost something that mattered a lot to me, I can never have it back.
....This bridge is crossed, now stand and watch it burn. I've passed the point of no return.
That was great. I've worked in many restaurants, and your post totally picked up on the camradery and banter that goes on in the back of the house. Then at the end, it was sad to see you go back and enjoy seeing your old friends yet know that you were no longer one of the team. Very well written, joyous and sad in equal measures.
Posts: 6316 | Registered: Jun 2003
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Oddly enough I just suggested in the chat room that I go burn my Jr. High down. Feyd suggested we make a picnic out of it.
In one case, when we change our lives, it brings a sense of freedom and adventure, while in another way it brings a sense of sorrow that change does in fact exist. When I graduated, I was both relieved and sad. I thought I would miss my high school, and hate college life. I went back to take my sister out for lunch one day, took a good look around and realized that the only thing about high school that I liked were my friends. And we are still friends, and I hope that my children (God willing someday I have them) will be friends with their children. But I don't exclude the fact that even that may change.
When I figured out my dad, I buried it because I knew the change. I talked about that to Emp a lot, about how I knew things would change and I didn't want that. Nobody can control things to never change.
I don't know why I'm talking about this, perhaps I'm tired. I think I'm distracting from your post. In any case, I just want to say that I can relate to your feeling of loss and growing up. But cheer up and enjoy that which you have now before it changes again.
Edited to add: Oh, and don't feel that you have to make something a landmark thread in order to talk about yourself. No matter what post number, if you tell us, we will read just the same. That goes for everyone.
Anna Toretha, my friend and acolyte, what an amazing person you are! How lucky I am to have you for a friend! I'm in awe of you.
Things change, good things and bad, they pass away, and then new things come into our hearts. Though you can't go back, you can take it with you. The restaurant, your friends, that place where you belonged, it's in your heart now forever. It's part of who you are.
Because it's inside you, you can recreate it anew, as time and circumstances permit, at any time in the future. You know how things are supposed to be now, so that someday when you're the one in charge, at your law office perhaps, you'll be able to set the game going again, with different players, and watch how it plays itself out.
Thank you for the things you share with me, for all that you've shown me. Thank you for your wise advice and kind advocacy. I feel so blessed by your friendship. You have, more than any person I've ever known, that sure and unerring ability to find the joy. I'm your acolyte at least as much as you are mine.
[ October 06, 2003, 09:20 AM: Message edited by: ana kata ]
Posts: 968 | Registered: Sep 2003
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Reading that post really brought back memories, Toretha. I worked at a small, relatively quiet fast food place through high school and most of my undergraduate years in college, and so many of the things you said in your post resonated with me, including how you felt when you returned to the place after having quit. It's funny how universal the experience of working in a restaurant is.
Posts: 16059 | Registered: Aug 2000
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I worked in a couple of restaurants in high school and college, first as a busser, then a waiter, then a bartender. I absolutely hated working the floor (although I did like tending bar, that was fun). The last restaurant I worked at was Juliette's parents' restaurant. I worked there for one summer and even though I hated the work, I really liked a lot of the people, both the floor staff and the kitchen staff. I still go there a lot because I'm part of the family now, and besides, I love the food, but it's definitely different to go as a customer than as a worker. I like to say hi to the people I know who still work there, although many of them don't anymore, but even so, I don't have much to talk about with them these days, because we're leading different lives now.
Actually, this has happened with all of the places I have worked, or even my old schools. I have all of these memories, and I even know some of the people still, but they're not my place anymore.
Still, life goes on. I may miss the old days sometimes, but I wouldn't give up what I have now. And, like other people have already said, those times will always be with me.
I was a line cook for a few years, there's always a thrill when the rushes hit. Surprisingly, no matter how big they are, you get through it, and reflect on the last few hours realizing just how much you had done in pure reaction.
Trying times for you I hope are few, but they are the struggles through which we invent and reinvent ourselves.
It's a quote, from Phantom of the Opera, actually. And it basically describes the situation, and is cool, so I used it. And my name is pronounce Ann-uh, not Ah-nah (It's really hard to type pronounciation of Anna)
Happy Posting Toretha! I admire so much those who can put their thoughts down into words on 'paper'...and those who have the patience to do it. I sure enjoy reading them. Post on post on!!
Posts: 6415 | Registered: Jul 2000
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I'm not sure about good luck or indulgences, Icky. <laughs> I think it's not about anything but just joy. We just sing and dance or whatever to express pure free joy, like birds in the morning, or cicadas on summer evenings, or children on a playground shouting and running around. We join again in the grand hallelujah. That's all. <beams>
[ October 08, 2003, 07:28 AM: Message edited by: ana kata ]
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