Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Why do I miss this?

I don’t know whats wrong with me, but I miss working in restaurants a lot.

You wake up at 4:30 pm. Its winter and the sun is setting. The cold dead orange winter light fills the room without putting in any heat. You roll off the mattress on the floor in the corner. You put your hand down on the carpet. Its the color of lung disease, and the land lord didn’t rinse it correctly after the state required change of tenet shampooing. You debate crawling to the bathroom but use the dining room chair to climb up off the floor instead. Walking to the bathroom you think about the grungy floor and how it never feels quite right under you bare feet.
The bathroom linoleum is stained rather than dirty. The floor is so cold that it aches. You run the water from the lime encrusted tap down the rust stained tub. When the water is hot you step in and the cold floor to hot water burns your feet. The steam billows out the top of the molding shower curtain as you struggle to keep both sides of your naked body warm in the damp coldness of the drafty room.
You wash everything carefully because you know you will be toweling off with the same towel tomorrow, towels won’t dry in one load and its a buck seventy-five a load. You dry off and shave. You brush your teeth carefully to make them white, hang the towel and walk out of the bathroom buck naked. The coldness that was so painful a few moments ago is now invigorating and you glory in being in YOUR apartment. Its yours and you can strut around naked if you want. You are preparing yourself for the night. Preparing your body, mind, and soul for the assault that will follow. You make yourself some breakfast, maybe eat some left overs, or that expensive name brand cereal that you really can’t afford. You get dressed. You look at your various choices of clean underwear and you chose the ones that you think will make you the most confident. You put on the dockers that you have to wear and the $60 dress shirt that you bought because it makes you look like a whip. The sleeves are stained vaguely with a little of everything here and there. It doesn’t matter, as soon as the day shift manager goes home you’re going to role them half up your forearm, and the waitresses are all going to unbutton their blouses down as low as the night manager will let us get away with. You put on the comfortable black shoes that tell the day manager are slip proof, but they aren’t.
You put on the coat that you wear when you want people to think you are cool and go out to the car. You lock the door carefully. Maybe when you were a kid you lived somewhere where you could start your car an then go inside, but you don’t anymore, and you’re never going back. Saying it like that makes it chic to drive a rusty death trap in this hell hole. It doesn’t want to start but you make it. You wish as you sit wait that you wore the warm coat that doesn’t look as cool. And you drive to the restaurant.
The parking lot is cold and you have to park in the back because the good spots are for paying customers. You go in the back door, and you’re hit by a thousand scents. If you wear glasses they fog up from the steam of the dishwashers (which is always near the back door). You smell the hot grease, the suet, the stale cigarettes, the bleach, and old mops. You clock in and start helping out. The day shift leaves, and the day manager smokes as she counts the money, ashing without thought as faces the bills. After what seems like an eternity (she waits for the respectable customers to leave) she leaves. The people coming in now are very different. We role up our sleeves, and loosen our stupid ties. The girls unbutton their top buttons. Its truckers and drunks, cops and drivers now. “Good” pimps bring in their girls. Couples trolling for young singles slide in. Potheads order impossible large orders of waffles, which they giggle and can’t eat most of. The lesbians and gays come in, and we make waivers about who is the man and who is the women each relationship.
The restaurant is after midnight now, and the restaurant is popping. We’ve caught the rhythm, we nearly dance between the tables, carrying heavy trays, gliding around each other. Sweat runs down between the girls’ breasts. Their faces shine as the sweat away the make up, and the mascara runs. Sweat soaks your shirt, starting at the armpits and the small of your back, but soon you’re soaked. You smile and laugh and flirt. You do whatever it takes to get that cash. You’re riding high on a wave smiles, winks, and dollar bills. And the restaurant winds down. You clean the place and count your money. We sit around and talk about who we met and what it all means. We help the dishwasher and the cooks. The sun peaks over the horizon. For the second time in your day, its 6 o’clock. The day manager returns, looking fresh and dead at the same time, like fish on ice. You go out to your car. Its colder than before. Painfully so, but the jingling money in your apron keeps you warm as drive your piece of crap car back to the apartment. You stumble up or down the stairs to the door that has the number that you call ‘home’. The rush of the night is over, you feel not as if you see blurry but that you have been blurred. You want to sleep, but you’re bed is so cold. You try to watch TV, but its stupid, and fall asleep feeling lonely and strong staring a whole into the water stains of the bedroom ceiling.

Why do I miss that so? Why does not having it make me wish I could hop a freight to anywhere but here?


June 7, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I know why. Cause your in the south! It’s a whole other culture down here and even more so for you since you’re in true DEEP SOUTH. Relationships are shallow, workers are lazy, and intelligence is not necessarily appreciated. I hope you don’t have to stay long.

    PS I didn’t know you worked anywhere that you served waffles.

    Comment by CC | June 8, 2007 | Reply

  2. As you know, I worked night shift as a dish washer in Azar’s Big Boy in down town Denver in 1970 before MY military experience. We always want to go back and live an experience over, thinking maybe “this time it won’t hurt”. But it would. Someday when I’m elderly and helpless in a nursing home, I’ll remember that experience and push the button on my call light and ask for a prn anti-depressent.

    Comment by RiverRatRanger | June 8, 2007 | Reply

  3. You know what I miss? I miss this! Where is THIS man? I saw this in High School, HIGH SCHOOL! I want a ficken hover car! NOW. I want to be on the moon, NOW, I want a huge laser cannon on the moon so I can demand they STOP making sucky cartoons that are just cheesey Anime rip offs that hyper suck anyway!. There How do you like those apples?. I’m placing a period right after a explicit question and explin, explima, expma, pointy mark thing!! There, eat double ponty mark things. Oh and I like valentino’s, great stuff for sure.

    Comment by Christopher H | June 9, 2007 | Reply

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