“So,” she asked me over the clanking of ice in the shaker, “what do you do in real life?”
I breathe a sigh of relief. Not that there’s anything wrong with being identified as a waitress, but I’m a shitty waitress on a good day and my maroon lipstick tells my patrons everything they need to know about how seriously I take my job. Oh, I like the small talk alright, but my ability to mix an old fashioned the same, twice in a row, is non-existent.
“I’m a writer,” I said.
Here in the dimly lit brick-enclosed space that smells of muddled oranges and spilled bourbon, I can be whatever I want. “Real life” is out there. In here is a three month overdue Telus bill and a used car with $11,000 of insurance on it’s back. In here is the blood in the veins of the hustle, and everyone knows there’s more to the story.
No one wakes up one morning and says “I’m going to be a waitress!”
Unless you’re me on Monday — I said those words because I needed some fast cash.
In here are ten fanny packs, six pouches of change and forty notepads from the dollar store, all waiting to have “medium rare, seat 1″ written on them. There’s nothing glamorous about wiping tables and spilling mayonnaise on your Chuck Taylors — but at midnight on a Thursday, The Black Keys playing through speakers above your head, shoes sticking to the splattered patterns of Jim Beam on the laminate, $120 dollars in your pocket and $70 in the bank, you feel slightly superior.
Not because $190 is enough money to pay half of your overdue Telus bill, but because this is the one job you can have that people won’t use to define you.
“How about you?” I asked her as I handed her the whiskey sour to take to a table in the back.
“I’m in my last year of neuroscience,” she said.
We all have to start somewhere.