My boss’ name was Tina. She was an Asian woman of about forty years? I was twenty at the time, so I have no idea. She was from China, as were two of the waiters, a husband and wife team of about seventy that got their work done and talked to no one. Every morning, I would (probably not) shave, shower, put on the black pants (size 48) that I bought at Goodwill the day I got the job. They were almost twenty sizes too big, but I would fold the front over and, under my black apron that never got washed, you couldn’t tell at all. I did wash my white, short sleeved shirt, but I did not iron it. And I wore their stupid bow tie. Like a monkey.
Every morning, Tina, five feet with the force of ten thousand suns worth of stress, would tell me that I needed to iron my shirt. I would smile and nod and not even think about doing it. I was aware of a few things. First, it was a godawful job. Terrible hours. Horrendous pay. The only upsides were that the old people were cool, the Mexican dudes in the kitchen were cool, and I ignored basically all their rules. Two, I spoke Spanish and English and no one else could do that fluently. And finally, I just honestly didn’t care about anything. Not really. And I was hung over every single time I went to work. And I smoked weed with the Mexican dudes every single day after work before going home to mainline cat cuddles and bourbon.
There were two waiters from the former Czech Republic. They had seen shit. You could tell. I never would have presumed to ask. They were nice. Friendly. They kind of doted on me in a big sisterly way, and I was OK with it because they were both pretty cute and they had awesome accents. One day, the cuter of the two (who used to tell me about how much she missed her husband, oh the humanity) gave me an iron. I took it home and put it on the counter and then started drinking. And I never ironed my shirt. I never even seriously considered it. The more they asked, the less likely I was to do it. And I had the residents in my corner. And the Mexicans. I called them gringos and they called me vato loco. It was a terrible job and it was also like a big old hug. I played piano for the residents and they were excited I was in college. I was a king.