Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Your Life, Your Meal, and Everything

Where would we be
If I took us out of context?
Out of our normal setting…

What do you say
To the familiar waitress you see
At the grocery store…

She's awkwardly smiling
Because of a slight recognition
You say, "hello…"

Knowing full well
She barely recognizes you
"Hi," she chirps back slowly…

Her voice is different-
Different than before… different than when she asks what you're eating today,
Or how everything was…
And by 'everything' she only means your meal.
And you know that, but her voice is uplifting when she asks,
And it makes everything a tiny bit better…
And by 'everything' this time you mean your life
Which hasn't been everything you had wished it to be
But the waitress is being so very nice today,
She must realize you're having a shit day
And she is so very understanding that there's no need to let it all out on her
You know she's understanding because of that amazing tone she uses when she talks.
Refilling your coffee and asking about desert…
You answer,
"Everything is fine… Thank you."
And when you say everything back to the waitress,
You mean everything.

The voice she uses in the grocery store is less friendly and more casual.
A bit more real and down to earth
As if she had met you in a high school class that you both hated
And seeing you reminds her of this class,
Although she seems happy to see you, she is thinking about the terrible Calculus exam she failed
And you passed…
Barely, but you passed and she is proud of you for being so studious but resents you also.
This voice is bitter, like your voice is when you first enter the restaurant she works in
A voice hardened a bit by the real world
A voice that talks just fine with minor proper English issues
But is laced with thoughts of rent being due soon,
laundry having to be done so you have clean work clothes
Budgeting so that you can afford to put gas in the tank
And knowing that you might have to ask someone to help you financially
And how degrading it feels to be at the mercy of someone else
Being tormented by the fact that they help you
Because they can hold that over your head…
This voice is harsh…
and you don't like this new voice.

She's confused, you can tell this much.
And her hair is down. You've never seen it down, and you like it down but because her voice is not the one you remember from the restaurant, you convince yourself that she looks bad.

"How are you?" she asks.
"Fine, fine…" you answer, followed by a pause.
"Yeah… I'm doing well."
"Nice… It's nice to hear that."
"Yeah. Well… How are you?"
"Oh! I'm fine… I'm good. Real good… just shopping for some food." she says with a smile.

She likes her own observation about her shopping… because it's obvious, it's funny. You smile at her. You like the joke, because it reminds you of the waitress at the restaurant, not this bitch at the grocery store who is hard and normal and not a bright ray of golden sun as she is at work.

"Ha, yeah… me too… Obviously." You joke back, with the same joke, hoping that it holds water again.
"Ha, cool… well…"
"Do you work today?" you blurt out nervously when you think she is going to leave. The beginning of the sentence being fast and loud, and the end being quick and normal volume.
[It clicks in her head that you come into her restaurant often… Now she remembers.]

"Yeah, I work at four…" she says. She speaks hesitantly still, and you realize that this is because she pondering if it is rude to tell you that she had no idea who you were until now.
"Sounds like fun," you say a little offhandedly.

Now you're a little pissed
that she's thinking about
what she is thinking about,
because you know what she is thinking about.

You knew who she was, even with her hair look dumb and down, and her not being in a uniform, and she doesn't know who you are even though you have her as your waitress at least two times a week. She knows what you drink and makes you feel like 'everything' is a bit better when she wants to know if 'everything' is ok even though your everything is your life and her everything is your meal.

"It's not bad when it's busy, you know? Gatta buy groceries somehow…" she states, very matter-of-factly.

[It clicks in your head that you're a decent tipper… You're buying the block of cheese and bag of potatoes in her cart this week]

"OK, well, maybe I'll see you later. I have to check my bank account after I leave here," you tell her, "see if I can afford coffee and pie today."

What if I was able
To put us back into context
Having me pay for your kindness …

Knowing full well
We're both humans
Both standing on our own two feet…

If we were babies,
It wouldn't matter
If I gave you a five or a single…

Because mommy would fix it
No matter what had happened
Living under her roof
asking what time dinner is…

But as adults, You have fears and worries and need someone like mommy to ask if everything is OK. As long as you tip well, and talk politely, everything will be fine. Your meal, your life, and everything.

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