orderpad notes, 4.17

dim brewpub on a tuesday night
in the foreground,
the hiss of meat being slapped
on the grill
murmured Spanish
directing the assemblage of meals
the ceramic whisper of clean plates
being pulled from stacks

in the background,
the pleasant din
of people enjoying themselves
voices rising and falling
silverware clinking against plates
the weight of pint glasses coming to rest
on wooden tables

And here, in the space between,
me
hovering in wait
for a full caeser and a bowl of chili,
for the next request, or demand
for the end of the night
for some time to myself

I do not resent the people who eat the food
or drink the beers
but sometimes i think about asking them
if they realize
that every full pint, and every empty one
and every clean fork, and every dirty one
and every full plate, and every picked over one
is borne by these arms
my body knows the weight of that pint glass
as intimately as i know the shape of my son’s hands

I share dinnertime with certain restaurant patrons more often
than i eat that meal with my husband and my son
and while I am grateful for my job, and my coworkers,
and my kind patrons, who are many, and my good tips, which are frequent, and the lack of a bill for daycare,

i cannot help but think of something Josie said the other night
we are surrounded by food,

and yet we hunger

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3 Comments

Filed under basic goodness, blue collar, doldrums, Family, Food, Labor, Ordinary, poetry, stories, waitressing

3 responses to “orderpad notes, 4.17

  1. Well done, mama, well done! So heartbreaking and real. This reminds me that I need to read more of your work 🙂

  2. hmmm…you might end up with 2 similar comments…Well done, mama, well done! So heartbreaking and real. This reminds me that I need to read more of your work 🙂

  3. Whew. Your post brings back “food service” reality like a bee sting. I cooked and washed dishes for less than minimum wage, two full summers in national parks, for people I never encountered. Then waitressed, two summers more, for insatiable tourists who, not only didn’t realize where they were in the geography they’d sought so fervently, but treated those that had helped them on that voyage, be they waitresses or bus drivers or maids, like dirt.
    It is why, to this day, I stack dishes, swipe the table, and coordinate, as closely as I can for “pick up by the hired help,” the glasses and plates after we are done eating in “public.”

    Rock on you folks who provide food service to the “public.” Here’s to your labor, and your efforts, to make your labor more valid, and valuable, to a society who takes it for granted.

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