I look down to see a swath across my middle, fluid pouring out like heavy cream onto the stainless steel table below. It spills over the table's edge, down the legs, and gathers in a pool on the tile floor. I watch for a moment, then collect myself, get cleaned up, and go back to the floor.
I started working at a restaurant about a month ago, and I've gotten fairly comfortable there, although I'm definitely still "the New Guy." The people I work with are pretty friendly and it's nice to have some extra cash. The clientèle can be a bit pretentious, but then again, I guess the menu is also.
There is nothing done just straight up. Everything is preceded by several adjectives, and is either infused with or accompanied by something. Fresh mozzarella and pesto, topped with a red onion, tomato, balsamic mix. Toasted crostini layered with smoked chicken sausage, queso fresco, arugula, roasted red pepper, and a lemon pepper cream cheese. Or the challah bread french toast, stuffed with apple cream-cheese streusel, and topped with pralines and organic maple-pecan syrup.
The espresso machine just got a tune up, so now I can make that half-caff, low-foam, skim chai latte that I so dearly love. I bring one (or something similar) to a woman's table as she parks her double-wide, climate controlled, stroller SUV and unleashes two demons. I find some crayons for the kids, take the order, and fetch some kid-safe cups.
It's a slower day than usual, and things are running pretty smoothly. This woman turns out to be less trouble than I expect and the rest of the afternoon is fairly uneventful. I take a break after lunch and go back to the kitchen to make a half sandwich. Fresh baked wheat bread with turkey, provolone, tomatoes, romaine, and pesto mayo, plus a cup of chicken minestrone.
Afterward, I restock some glass bottles of Sprite and Coke, and put together some garnishes for bloody marys. I've still got an hour left, but to my surprise, I get sent home early. I took a different route to work this morning, and I now backtrack—walking down the road to catch the bus.
It's gotten chilly all of a sudden, and waiting for the bus I notice a man shiver and draw his coat tighter. Another guy adjusts his scarf and buries his hands in his pockets. Across the street, a young man pumping gas zips his jacket, throws up his oversized hood, and crosses his arms, sort of hugging himself.
I half smile, realizing that I'm doing the same thing. The wind has picked up, and as I look down the street through the glass of the bus stop, I see that it has just started sprinkling again.