Monthly Archives: August 2010

Bern’s pick

I was sitting here staring at the “Put title here” thing and just sighed lightly and looked at it some more.  My sister (middle sister, in case I ever refer the them as big or middle sister) is sitting across my kitchen table from me.  We’re kicking back, drinking beer, listening to music and duel laptopping. I think I just made up that word.  Anyway, I asked her for a subject.  We looked at each other for a minute or so, and I do mean that.  It was not a second or so, it was a minute or so.  She came back with “waitressing”.

When I turned 16 I was told that I was going to get a job.  It wasn’t a surprise.  That’s what my parent’s children did when they turned 16.  Claudette turned 16-job.  Bob turned 16-job.  Bernadette turned 16-job.  I turned 16, knew what was expected, job.  I was one of those kids who didn’t want to get my driver’s license, few and far between but for the record my son followed in my footsteps.  We just had different reasons.  Anyway my dad would drive me around from place to place to put in applications.  I never had a choice as to where I would apply  but  when they wanted to interview me immediately I always had the choice on whether or not I would pass the interview.  There were a few places I just didn’t want to work and trust me, they never ever called me after I had interviewed.   Be a little creative and you can fail any interview you choose.  I can be creative.

My middle sister, Bernadette, worked in the next town at a restaurant called Embers.  She liked it and had fun so I didn’t fail that interview.  I was then a 16 year old, very naive, inexperienced waitress.  Being in hs I got mostly “bar rush” shifts.  I’ve heard that in other 24 hour restaurants it’s called “the drunk run”.  So right, it’s working the shifts when the drunks come in after bar close.  What a wake up call!  Ya learn pretty quickly how to kick someone in the shin.  Or, that could have just been me.  Okay, just asked Bern.  Apparently she never had to kick anyone in the shin.  Still not thinking it wasn’t  just me though.

So many directions I could go with this but I think I’m honing in on the fact that that job didn’t  just become a complete life change (and tonight, I’m not going there either), it became a life style. Once I left  there I moved to Bemidji to go to college and got a job, of course, as a waitress.  By the time I’d married Rob the 1st time I swore I’d never do that again.  But I did, time and time again and that’s what fed my children all through my 30’s as single parent.  It’s a  hard job but the instant cash is hard to walk away from. That and with the hours I worked I could still raise my children, go on field trips and so on.   Good thing I was never a bartender, I’d still be there.

By the time I was in my 30’s I would get repeat customers who told me I should be a stand up comic.  Um, just thinking no one else brought humor to their lives.  I’ve got to work doing the same thing over and over and over again, of course I’m going to find ways to make it  fun.  Sometimes for them, sometimes for me. You give me a table of 4 people and one of them is a crab-ass and  I will bring out dinner for 3 people and say to the 4th “and if you were nicer, you’d be eating now too”.  Right, I know how to make 3 people laugh and one crabby person get crabbier.   I just don’t have a lot of tolerance for people who need to share their crabbiness with total strangers.  That and anyone who jokes about tips, or told me they were a big tipper.  I would always look at those people and tell them that I just did this for fun, my kids didn’t need to eat, they ate yesterday.  Right, and what is with the people who felt the need to tell me how cheap they are?   See?  I’m starting to spout.  Total burn out on being a waitress.

After I got a “real” job at the ripe old age of 41, I stayed at the restaurant  I was working at for another 3 years.  The last year was a competition between my manager and myself.  He wanted me to quit, I wanted to get fired.  I never called in sick, I never didn’t show up for a shift.  Outside of that I did the most outrageous things to try to get fired.  He still won, I did the total burn out thing and just could NOT do  that anymore.  One night at the end of my shift, without any forethought, out of my mouth  came “I need to turn in my two weeks because I want to shoot everyone here”.  My manager looked at me kind of funny, and I couldn’t place the look in his eyes at the time, said “do you want tonight to be you’re last night?”.  Then I understood the look.  Fear.  I assured him that it wasn’t the employees I wanted to shoot, it was just the customers.  Okay, you and the customers.  Since then he was fired so there ya go.  You get what you give.  That applies to customers and managers.  Treat people as you would like to be treated no matter what your position.

So going back to Bern’s topic, and that is just so huge for me in one post,  bottom line is that I could be homeless or starving but still would never, ever be a waitress again.  Or, maybe I could.  Then I would have 3 square meals a day and a roof over my head.  I would be in prison.

Samantha’s leaving

On Monday, baby-daughter is headed to live in Freiburg, Germany for 11 months.  ELEVEN MONTHS!  Did I mention she’ll be gone for 11months?  That’s HUGE!  Which is why I choose not to go there in my head.  I’ll deal with it when I have to.  Okay, in 4 days.  I have no idea what that’ll be like, guess I’m about to find out, huh?

She’s 20 years old.  When I was 20 years old I went away to school for the 1st time.  Waited 2 years after hs to go.  Really worried about what kind of roommate I’d have  because I really didn’t want a 17 year old cheerleader. That was probably my biggest, maybe my only worry.   I had never lived out of my parents house and I was very excited to go.  By car it was 5 & 1/2 hours away, however, if one’s dad works for the local airline it was a $5 ticket and a 1/2 hour plane ride.  I packed 2 large suitcases to fly up there on a Wednesday and my parents were going to drive the rest of my things up on the following Saturday.  Remember when you could actually walk someone to their gate or meet someone at their gate?  My dad and my hs sweetheart took me to my gate.  I remember that on the walk through the airport my dad ran  into someone he knew and when asked what he was doing at the airport my dad’s response was “this one’s going away to school to get her MRS”.    I was annoyed because that wasn’t what I was going to school for and that he had said it in front of boyfriend but in the end it was the only degree I earned at school.  So, we got to the gate and waited for boarding and I so very excited!  Then it was time to board, yay!  Time to board,  I’m leaving!  Wait!  I’m leaving?  Me?  I’m leaving? I’m leaving?  I am leaving.  I am leaving everyone I know and love!  Family and friends, my dog!  I am leaving all I am familiar with!  I am leaving my bedroom.  I am leaving my house, my neighborhood, my streets, my stores, my local bars, even my acquaintances.

Anyone who knows me,  knows that I am not a crier.  I am SO not a crier.  But, in spite of that, guess what…out of the blue, shazam!  I am crying.   Very crying.  I did board the plane but cried all the way to Bemidji.  Still crying when I departed the plane. Still crying when I got my bags.  Fortunately for me a local couple had noticed me on the plane…okay, really?  I’m pretty sure everyone noticed me.  This couple, however, actually approached me.  They drove me to the university, took me to the dorm, checked me in, took me to my room, gave me their names, address, phone #, they hugged me good bye….I have no idea what I would have done without them.  I was a mess.

Later that night, a long time later, it was about 2 minutes later…I was back into the excitement mode!  After all, I had a room to check out, a floor to check out, a wing to  check out, a dorm to check out,  the entire campus to check out!  A new life to check out.  How incredibly exciting!  It’s good to go outside one’s comfort zone.  I checked the mirror,  wiped away the tears and went out to discover life.

It was fantastic!

I know, I started this w/the intention of discussing Samantha going away for 11 months.  ELEVEN MONTHS!  Got sidetracked because I’m just not going there in my head yet.

Something else I learned from my mom’s mom

No matter if we want to or not, we each gain strength from things we’d rather not go through.  Both my grandmother’s were very strong women and they each went about life in very different ways.  My mom’s mom I was always a little bit afraid of and she  truly  was an inspiration to me.  She would bitch at me for being mean to my mom (when I was a teen I was the parent challenge, even though I was the 4th kid~I just broke them in for Joe apparently) and then she would  turn around and teach me how to smoke in the bathroom without being caught.  I completely get it now but as a 14 year old kid I was more than a little confused.

She was a very, very strong women…against her will, I think.  Her name was Florence and she was born in 1916 and got her only sibling Jackie (John) 2 or 3 years later.   He left this earth way too soon at age of 14.  Shortly before or after that she lost her dad.  Got married at 17,  had my mom at 18, 2 years later she gave birth to my (fabulous) Uncle B0b and within 2 years she had another son, Donald, who died as an infant and then her husband died from peritonitis.  This was during  the depression and damn straight, if I were her I’d have been pissed off at the world.  I don’t know if she was or not but she did survive all of that.

I have no idea what her fun factor was when she was young but I kinda think that she understood the fact when you live life, you’ve got to have fun if you can, when you can.  I don’t know when it started but she used to go to Mardi Gras every year.   She told me a story about being in a bar in New Orleans with a friend,  they were having a few cocktails, soaking in the scenery and having a good time.  A couple of other women joined them, chatted a bit and then asked them if they were gay.  This was back in the day when gay meant fun, having a good time, whatever  (look up Fred Astaire songs). Her and her friend’s response of course was “oh yes, yes, we’re gay”.  Then the mood of the conversation changed a little…I can still see the look in her eyes when she told me “and then we understood what they MEANT!  We left so fast!”.

She married again (and he died 3 months before I was born, that’s another story) and gave my mom 2 sisters and me 2 wonderful aunts and some fabulous cousins but she left us all far too early at the unripe old age of 68 in 1985.   I think of the conversations we could have had since then and I miss her tremendously.    Anyway, back to the title of this blog.  That gramma is the one who taught me to put my hand behind my back and ring the door bell when someone is getting a little too close . When she met her 3rd husband, he asked her for her phone #.  She told him that it was in the phone book.  He asked her what her last name was, she informed him that THAT was in the phone book as well :o)  That was the man I grew up with as “grampa”, he was persistent and won her over.

As a teen I used to just lie about my name when I was being hit on (one lie that I can tell w/a straight face) that and where I was from.  Being a single parent through my 30’s I used her phone book line over and over again.  Thanks gramma, I miss you!