Saturday, February 18, 2006
The things we have in common
Yesterday as I interviewed the head expediter (the main link between the kitchen and the front-of-the-house staff) for a story I'm writing about twentysomethings who have college degrees yet work at so-called "temporary" jobs that aren't in their fields of study, I got to thinking about a point he brought up.
"Something interesting about working in restaurants," he said, "is that when someone moves on, you always say you're going to stay in touch with that person, but you never do."
"I guess it makes me realize that the only thing you really have in common is that you work together. And you drink together."
Too true. So many times have I moved onto another restaurant, or said goodbye to a coworker with promises to call or text, to get manicures, to go for cocktails, to play tennis. A month goes by and we chat sporadically, then two months and we still haven't seen each other, and after the third month I'll delete her (or his) number from my phone.
Is the fast pace of the dinner shift the only thing that keeps us comrades? Is a restaurant really, as Anthony has said, like a reality TV show in which contestants form alliances merely to further their own selfish goals? When I got off of work last night and headed across the street to the Transfer to meet my coworkers for drinks (like we do every Friday night, and most weeknights as well), I looked around at them throwing back shots and wondered what the point was.
After having a beer stolen by the waiter who showed up for work too fucked up to see straight (he was sent home immediately but apparently headed to the bar and waited for us all to show up, 5 hours later), I hopped in a cab and headed across town to a houseful of old friends from junior high school who were digging through a gigantic cardboard box of elementary school photos, and all the notes we passed each other up to our senior year. Happy cheers erupted as I trudged up the front porch, and we spent the next several hours reminiscing, laughing real laughter, and fell asleep in a big pile on the living room floor. Now those are some numbers I know my phone will have forever.