It's no secret that people in the food service industry tend to be, well... dirty. Perverted, alcoholic, workaholic, foul-mouthed, violent, drug-addled filth-mongers who deserve to reap what they have sewn in their bar-brawl-bruised clenched fists, sitting alone in a chain-smoked cloud of bad decisions and regret. I have a theory that the reason they - the reason we, for I am one of them - are this way is because we are literally always dirty. Drink spills, food splatter, dishwater, spat out gristle, puke, sweat, and occasionally even blood: these are our regular work hazards.
It's hard to ever really feel clean when you work in a restaurant. No number of showers or trips to the dry cleaner's can get rid of that smell, the grease, those stains. And when you feel dirty all the time, it's easier to find yourself doing dirty things... Stealing food, booze cash; fucking the bus boy, the line cook, your boss; taking an extra smoke break, getting high in the walk-in cooler, snorting lines off the bar top with your manager after hours...
...And the drinking, oh the drinking. People chastise the cocktail waitress for spending all her money at the bar each night, but that's just to mentally absolve herself from the six hours of molestation, degradation, and abuse she endured for $2.13 an hour. And to the customers, who see our little theatre from behind a two-way mirror: Your food was three minutes late because your server was begging the babysitter to stay a little later. Your steak was over-cooked because the chef's wife left him this morning and he's popping Vicodin just to keep it together. Your hostess is paying more attention to your toddler than to taking your to-go order because she's barely spent any time with her own kid in months. The reason your appetizer came out at the same time as your entree is because the fry cook found out his girlfriend, your server, boned the grill cook last Friday, and in his broken-hearted fury he's trying to make her pay for it by tricking you into leaving a shitty tip. Maybe the reason that General Manager seems like he's being a prick by neglecting his servers and making them stay ten minutes late while he hides in his office is because he's on the phone with his incoherent, elderly mother, suffering the beginnings of a chapter he's not ready for, and he doesn't want his employees to see how heartbroken, helpless, and terrified he is. And maybe the reason your bartender pushed you to get the fries even though you didn't really want the fries is because that bartender was homeless, and knew you wouldn't eat all your fries, and that was her first meal of the day when she cleared your plate, carefully hid it in a to-go box in her suspiciously large knapsack, and slept in a cardboard box by the dumpsters after work that night.
One day I'll tell you. I'll write the whole goddamnned story of how in one year I was dumped, fired, kicked out, ruined a marriage, dealt drugs, attempted suicide, nearly caused a good man's death, came to terms with addiction; was slandered about, robbed, raped, beaten up, and left for dead (more than once) finding myself 22 and homeless and at the mercy of the kindness of strangers I've come to call my family - and lived to tell the tale. I'm going to write the whole goddamn story down and call it "Kids These Days." ...But until then, just promise me you'll be nice to your waitress next time you go out.