Janice and Cooki
My last post was something else...it was the verbalization of all the dark things that i realize drive us to destroy, and it ended unlike anything else i've ever written. My endings are usually blithe, sarcasm/dark-humour infused one-liners, meant to take the bitter edge off of the rest of my words. Apparently it's what makes my writing style so readable; i'll touch upon some dark, insightful shit then i'll joke about it and make the reader laugh.
I didn't laugh at my last post.
Then i got to thinking, am i dwelling on the negative because it feels good to have something to excuse my destructive behaviors on? Am i constantly surrounded by positivity, and only seeing it when it suits my best interests? Do i blame the negativity for all of the shit in my life because it's so much easier than realizing that i am actually just selfish for having secret mini death wishes? Am i refusing to seek help because i JUST.DON'T. WANNA?
So i was thinking back to my shift yesterday at the restaurant; it's been described as a restaurant that is in a "black hole of a junkie, whorehouse, filthy piece of shit excuse for a place to go work at".
This is true. It is what it is. But it's also a place where the inner beauty of people is so much more apparent when it's surrounded by so much darkness.
I have my regulars. I have a good memory. I like making people happy. So, i know that when Biker Dave comes in he's gonna have coffee in a to-go cup with 2 creamers and 2 sugar twin, with an extra-large (i break out the biggest bowl we have) of the soup of the day with 5 packs of crackers.
When Janice comes in every morning (minus Tuesdays) she has a glass of cold water, no ice, and the 2 Egg Sunshine breakfast. 2 eggs scrambled, hashbrowns without seasoning, crisp bacon (not burnt) and cucumber slices and grapes instead of toast. Her boyfriend of 7 years just gave her a promise ring. She loves to read.
Jim comes in every day without fail, on Saturdays he meets his brother (who looks like Paul Newman) and gets the 2 Egg Sunshine breakfast, with his eggs poached medium, brown toast buttered to the edges, tomato slices and grapefruit instead of meat. And one orange marmalade, because he makes an open faced egg sandwich with one slice, and eats the other with the marmalade. Coffee black.
Brenda is part of the Osborne Village Biz. She comes in every morning and sometimes for lunch. When it's really cold out she gets a small bowl of oatmeal in a big bowl so that she can put in lots of warmed up 2% and an order of dry rye with peanut butter and honey.
When it's not killer cold out she'll get a fried onion and cheddar omelet with grilled tomato slices instead of hashbrowns, buttered rye.
Al comes in every day. EVERY DAY, he's a mechanical engineer (like my dad) and specializes in air; cooling, heating, air filtration etc. He has an office/house on Gertrude a few blocks away but lives outside of the city. Al is 76.
Al is one of my best friends.
He's so smart, so fucking smart...he's old and wise and we have a relationship based completely on trust and respect and have nothing to gain from each other except for the insight of someone who's completely opposite on the outside, yet ultimately the exact same on the inside.
I know so much about his past; his childhood, his schooling, his upbringing, his opinions on religion and spirituality, his fascination with human social interaction, we share with each other reviews on music, theatre, symphonies, interpretations of biblical passages (that is for another entry entirely).
But i've come to realize that in this deep pit of despair, this black hole of an establishment, there is so much beauty to be found. There are people who come faithfully every day, not only for the cheap food and close proximity, but for the conversation with me and exchange of daily experiences. I have come to rely and depend on my regulars to keep my routine what it is; routine. I have established bonds with people who outside of the restaurant, i would never have had the chance to get to know. The way i look, the way i do my hair or makeup or dress, it has little to no relevance to someone like Al. He looks at me and my stupid new tattoos and laughs as he says, "Well, you only live once, right?", or on the flipside, "Why would you ruin your body like that?" (i'm assuming it's his engrained old-school mentality on tattoos that makes him think like that.) It's never a matter of proving my punk-rockness to someone, it's never a matter of destroying my body to gain attention, because these people couldn't care less. They take notice of when i lose weight and invite me to sit down and take a break, eat lunch with them. They notice when i'm not my usual cheery self and ask me how my day is going with a genuine concern. I do the same for them.
Ron has worked at the front desk for 20 years. Chances are, if you've been to a show at the Zoo in the past 2 decades, you've met him. He is cranky. He is jaded. He is worn and old and so accepting of human scum that he'll treat you the same whether you're a junkie, prostitute, medical student or police officer. He doesn't smile. He doesn't care how you are today. He gets his job done, he rents out rooms, he sells cigarettes and lighters, and he calls security when someone shows up too drunk to fight or call their own cab.
He works 11pm-7am and always orders a chili dog and fries to go (he lives upstairs) or a medium garden salad with garlic toast unsliced for breakfast/lunch when he gets off of shift.
Yesterday he came up to me and gave me a card and an assortment of chocolates and said, "I was going to get you something to wear but i didn't know your size".
This is a man who probably hasn't shopped for a woman since he was child and shopped for his mother. This is a man who has been described by many as a "tightwad", a "Scrooge", a "total grouch."
Are you fucking serious? I felt tears well up in my eyes when i saw his smile reach his own gray eyes in appreciation/adoration for me. I know what he likes to eat, so i make sure he gets it. Simple enough, right? I think for him, it's a big deal because no one had ever made sure that he had his meal ready for him when he got off of his graveyard shift, no one ever offered him a glass of ice water when it was hot outside and there was no air conditioning inside of the hotel.
I have come to realize that there is so much beauty in the world that we don't allow ourselves to see because we're born to stereotype, and the only acceptance we have is for someone who will somehow validate us on a meaningless surface level. We'll donate to Cancer Care Manitoba because it makes us seem empathetic or people who 'fight for a cause'.
I personally think that's all bullshit, and i am so fucking grateful to the people who have opened my eyes to a world of beauty while working in an abyss of everything that is wrong in this world.
Happy New Year.