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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

The Waiter Chronicles (part 1)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Six hours on your feet, setting and clearing tables, cutting bread to arrange with butter and tapanade, polishing glasses (official broken glass count: 1), clearing, moving, then re-setting tables: welcome to the life of a wannabe waiter.

I say wannabe because it hit me today, somewhere between the crashing class and aching back, that this will not be the semi-glamorous gig I figured it would be. This will be eeking out a living through aches and pains and sweat, not to mention constant demoralizing and a little bit of good company.

Also, I am the token white guy.

Pardon the pseudo-Marxist, this-is-how-the-worker-lives tone that is sure to follow, but I couldn't help the feeling all day that I was experiencing a class division. In my brief career as a pastor I went out to lunch all the time--with colleagues, with parishoners, with friends. Because I had job that allowed lots of leeway in how I spent my time. As long as congregants were cared for and the sermon was ready on Sunday and the administration of the church wasn't grinding to a halt, I could take a couple of hours on almost any given day to break for lunch.

Today that looked like a blessed privilege. Today I gulped down a salad at around 2:30 between commands to "move this" and "get that," never uttering a word, always just doing. Just doing is the oxygen of the service sector. As a pastor I fretted over what was going to happen next Sunday, next year, five years from now; today I was sick with anxiety over the next 15 minutes. And, driven by that anxiety, you just do.

The schedule I happened upon (nobody pointed it out to me) about two hours into my shift shows me working every day this week except Sunday. It shows me working Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. Yet another element of the hourly wage job: the tyranny of the schedule.

I hope this is making me a better person.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:42 PM

3 Comments:

hmm...

a better person? not likely considering your betterment would entail nph having room to grow in the dept of betterness which in my humble opine is quite packed with bettering qualities already - any better would likely break the scale. no, not better - bitter, now that's a whole different story... consider it mulch in the garden of future sermons - stinks at first, labor intensive, but once it's done and you're able to look at what you've done... yotm*, baby, yotm.


*yard of the month
commented by Blogger KP, 11:43 AM  
I had a moment at one of my jobs yesterday- many people would consider it menial labor- that so frustrated me that my face flushed with rage. Or it could have been tears. I can't be certain- it was so hot that I'd completely soaked through all my clothing.

Anyway, I wanted you to know that I'm following your challenges with great interest.
commented by Blogger Happy In Bag, 1:43 PM  
Happy in Bag,

Thanks for dropping in and commenting. You described it just right: rage and humiliation verging on the edge of tears.

But I can laugh about that now.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 2:58 PM  

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