I’m looking for another job, the waitress assured me.
Always looking for another job, I thought quietly.
I don’t want to be a fucking waitress for the rest of my life, she pleads with me. Her eyes betray a vulnerability that I have never seen before. This girl is a strong woman. This woman is hard, tatoos on her neck, deep sea eye shadow swimming around her eyes. She is lived in.
I need someplace where I can move up, where I am not stuck. She stops, looks around, starts again, she stops. She looks at me, realizing she has said too much. With her eyes. Her eyes have betrayed her, for she has shared a deep-seated fear.
She has shared a deep-seated fear that is shared by many waiters; in New York City, in LA, in Berlin, anywhere. Hopes, dreams, aspirations…reality. We become waiters out of necessity. We become waiters to pay the bills. We become waiters to avoid being shackled to the man’s Nine-to-Five Reality. We become waiters, in a strange way, for freedom.
This freedom is Life Flexibility, the feeling (illusion?) that we can do what we want, when we want, how we want. This job is disposable. We can quit and move on at a moment’s notice. Disappear with the wind…gone…just like that. We are free, as waiters. We realize that we too are disposable. It is a mutually benefical scenario.
Why is it, then, that so many of us seem unhappy? Why is it that so many of us wait tables, waiting on that dream to sweep us away from the harsh reality of a life serving the public? Why do we depend on the kindness of strangers for our living? Is this not some glorified form of slavery, a hand-out for the “rebels” among us that refuse to live a so-called normal life? Why are we waiters, and what are we about?
I dont want to be a waiter for the rest of my life, she finishes, almost inaudibly. She looks past her section, past the diamond earrings, $100 manicures and flashing smiles. She looks past her own real existence into an imagined future, hopeful.
Yet she knows. She knows, that if she is not careful, she will be sucked into this “flexibl” lifestyle, unable to escape the love-hate bond that tethers most waiters to their profession. It may merely be a holding pattern for something grander, but it is also an end in and of itself.
I don’t want to be a waiter…forever.