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Not Prince Hamlet

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

The Waiter Chronicles: Last Day

Friday, February 08, 2008

It is the last day today. In at 10:30 to open, serve lunch, and then it's over. It's not an ending I ever expected to be very thoughtful about, and yet I'm finding myself a little sad. The cast of characters that has made up my life these last seven months will stay in place, doing what they do, but I won't be there to enjoy it.

Yet, neither will I be there to suffer from it.

I've got Angry Chef's phone number in my contact list, and a couple of times this week I've thought that I should call him up, give him a proper farewell. I've not seen or heard from him since that blurry December night when he told me what to do with myself and then disappeared into the night, never to be heard from again. I don't know if I'll pursue that thought.

I've gone so far as to assemble a playlist to burn for Pepe, but I don't have any cd's, so it'll probably not see the light of day. That's okay. There's something a little bit forced about somebody like myself forcing music onto a 21 year old dynamo like Pepe, even if it does arise out of a genuine desire to share something good.

I stopped by a little boutique on the way home yesterday to pick up a little something for The Owners. I'd had in mind for awhile that I would leave them with a chalice and plate set, a quasi theological statement about their restaurant as a shared table where people are welcomed and find, em, communion. But those are a lot more expensive than I'd realized. In the end I settled an a small iron cross that I hope will make a contribution to the life of the place.

Waiterrant wrote awhile back that the restaurant world "can be like a comfortable womb" for those who work in it. You come at the start of your shift, and you leave at the end. What's expected of you is constant. You don't have health benefits or weekends, but it's predictable and safe; at times, the cash is fantastic. I never envisioned anything other than a thoughtless and sudden transition out of this "womb," yet I suspect that the coming days and weeks will have their moments of . . . something--nostalgia, maybe?

That'll be for the good. It will mean that this experience has been good. Which is worlds away from what I thought it would be when I wrote this:

"It occurred to me as I walked home this afternoon that I don't need this. Ten years ago I would have seen it as a test of character. I would have regarded the breaking glasses and the raging inferiority complex as a sort of challenge to be overcome. To ingratiate myself to those people by proving myself minimally competent, even good, at what I was hired to do would have become a measure of my abilities. I would endure it to prove to myself that I could. But I don't need to do that anymore. I don't need to prove anything to myself, at least not as it pertains to balancing dishes on a tray. I so don't need this.

Only I do. Because otherwise I'm unemployed, and somehow that seems worse than this. But not by much.

Ciao.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:01 AM

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