Saturday, July 3, 2010


I can't seem to motivate myself, and I think it's because there isn't anything that I have to do. I spent so many years working under a time crunch, that when I don't have one I just stop. If you've ever worked a lot of splits or banquets or in the kind of restaurants that were so seasonally affected that half the staff disappeared in the off-months, you probably know what I'm going through. During the off times, you wait and re-charge. But what if there's nothing to re-charge for? (Sorry, for which to re-charge?)

Banquets were probably where the habit of resting between duties was ground into me most. There's no other way I could have made it through those 115 hour weeks during Christmas season if I hadn't figured out how to shut down when I had the chance. The problem for me now is that I don't work. I'm disabled, and I have one part-time job (5 hours a week) and a couple of volunteer things I do, and I usher at church once a month, so otherwise I'm "resting." I treat my time like I am just waiting until I'm on the schedule again, but otherwise I'm not moving. I don't clean house unless someone is coming over, and I don't even bother to wash my hair unless I'm leaving the apartment. Sometimes I don't even shave.

Granted, some of the resting is necessary, but I think it goes deeper than that. For instance, I learned early on that if I had to work a long night shift, I wasn't gonna do too much in the day. I probably wasn't even going to get up until a couple of hours before I went to work. I always tried to be as fresh and energized as I could be for my shift. I had to be, because work took every last ounce of physical and mental energy out of me. I measured it out through the shift, like you would balance the last drag off a cigarette with that last slug of coffee, and when the shift was over, I'd given all I had to give. I think I still hold back as if I had something to do later in the day - not wanting to use myself up before I have to - and then when the day is over and I haven't done anything, I just feel empty. I haven't acclimated myself to being off the schedule.

I miss the adrenaline rush of waiting tables, even as I know that I couldn't possibly handle the demands of the job any more. When breakfast, lunch, movie or bar rush hit, when a party broke and we had to turn a room in half an hour, when we were snowed in with the airport closed and a hotel filled to capacity, a skeleton crew to cover all the shifts and positions ... when I didn't have time to think about what to do with my time.

Sometimes I resent beating up my body the way I did, with my left hip higher than my right and my right shoulder shorter than my left from carrying trays, my varicose veins and swollen ankles, and the fact that I was always too tired from work to actually exercise. I can get to feeling bad about all the social activities I missed and the concerts and lunch dates, 'cos I was always working when all the "normal" people weren't. If someone was getting married, unless I was working the party, I probably wasn't gonna be there. On the other hand, I obviously miss the work, or I wouldn't be walking through "Guy's House of Memories" in this blog, recalling my glory years.

The point I hope I'm making today is that, while you're waiting, you may be thinking that the job is just something you're going to do until your real life starts, but it is your real life. There are some things about being a waiter that never leave you. You'll eventually get over checking for daylight in the salt shakers, facing the sweet and lows and straightening cutlery on empty tables, but you don't ever forget that there were moments when the whole future of the world rested on your shoulders and on whether or not table 16 got their damned extra side of ranch dressing for their fries before they walked. There were times when you were needed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I have this same problem. I'm an out-of-work teacher with a lot of free time this summer. There's nothing to *rest from* or *prepare for*. So I just browse blogs all day and don't do anything. It's amazing how much more you can get done when you have something to do. Good luck with figuring that out, I haven't yet. :|