9 miles

Late Sunday evening, I was urged to look outside my door, because Oakley-girl, the wander dawg, was pretty lax and low, and when deigning to move, was moving slow.

Surely, a weather change in the works?

Please don’t let it be her traveling further down the path to the Happy Hunting Grounds is my prayer of the past year.

No wind is screaming – no hail ricocheting off the metal roof or modern spouts that deliver heat and hot water energy gases into the open air, instead of into my small house, alert me to look outside.

I am called sans any outward signs, immediately apparent to me, to open the door, once more, to gaze upon the external landscape that has been ignored until just now! while I worked my through my ‘cyber checklists’ on various fronts.

I was surprised to view a quiet, gentle, continuous drizzle of rain, delivered from dark with moisture clouds.

Clouds that covered the sky fully in many shades of grey, but did not carry the angry colors or swirling of hot and cold fronts meeting in battle.

After the warm weekend days prior, the house was warmer than I prefer to sleep in, and I opened my small window in the bedroom, in hopes to sleep to the sound of the rain.

Alas, the gentle rain fell so steady, so softly, I could only sense it’s beauty through my nose, rather than my ears.

But my soul recognized the smell, and my nose was enough to gather in that which would feed my soul.

I slept deeply, gratefully, for a time.

I woke up around 4am and pulled the winter comforter up.

The same comforter that was previously pushed back impatiently in the heat of spring temps, to once more cover the bed and me.

It’s cold. Colder than I figured it would get in my interior landscape, even though, the forecast deemed it was possible.

I gave up going back to sleep by 4:30, donned my layers of clothing and decided, upon viewing the dog, lying close to the wall furnace where a pilot light still burned, but no heat was forthcoming in any real way, that perhaps, I really, just now, should quit being a miser/conservationist or only thinking about myself and the warm bed I sleep within that allows drawing up/drawing down of covers, and sadly, realizing, how long it’s been since I gave up providing padded bed with lots of covers to paw and and shove into her needs, as she never lay within them.

Ever.

There is quantity of life and quality of life and all that I’m ‘saving’ on extending her quality of life, should be spent on quality of life, right?

I am pre-mourning the loss of the one thing I opened my heart fully to, after my son died that wasn’t known to me before he died.

And now?

That one spirit, appears, to be destined to leave before I do –

I’m struggling with it. I confess.

Perhaps she doesn’t have much time left, doesn’t dance a happy jig if I try to put a sweatshirt or crocheted layers on her (I don’t know, I never tried, I figure, her and I are of one heart – she is not a doll to be dressed up in things, but perhaps, before her joints ached, I COULD have tried? But why bother? She has a great auntie who made sure she had a pretty pink collar and leash – with LED lights to guard her on night walks, and a groomer pal who always helped aide her health, but had her dancing prettily like a princess all along the way) and if the days she struggles and I that worry me over her continue to last longer and longer before a good day?

Yup, I just added way more words – but, I, for me, no matter how arrogant, or selfish, know any other way than to celebrate her, celebrate what all she did for me in the dark days after my world fell apart – I know not other how to tell the ‘truth of her and her spirit’ and her saving grace, than telling you what a saint she is when I walk my path in non saintly ways – ever moment, of every day.

I don’t know – each year – she skips days of eating or bounding about to dance or call me to dance, when spring/fall storms commence.

But, in my human mind?

Time is passing and her grey hairs and mine only grow more in number, every year.

Why on earth would I make the hard days more miserable for her?

I’ll do it to myself, to save on carbon footprint, to save on $, to do everything I can, best as I can –

But not for her and her kind, loving spirit – nope – for her?

Up went the manual dial on the thermostat from ‘off’ to 65.

Yup, for my weakness of love for those I love, I and perhaps others? I shall gladly pay the price – now or later.

I trundled to the kitchen to reheat the coffee I brewed the night before, just in case I would have restless night and no time to brew the wakey-wakey juice I still crave, come the next day’s dawn.

I gazed upon the pre-dawn landscape while the cold coffee reheated and gave thanks to the moisture.

A couple hours later, during a refill of mug?

I felt the chill invade the house and heard the furnace running more.

And gazed out upon the rain, then slrain, finally turning into snow.

Normally, a beautiful day – full of gifts and blessings.

But not today…for me….in my internal world.

I was summoned to report for jury duty today, over a week ago.

Jury duty that takes place nearly 35 miles from me, but lies, along the shortest , most fuel costs effective route, across 9 miles of country road that becomes a bloody, muddy mess, in spring time, just like all the county roads of my youth do.

I had viewed the wet ground and driveway of my place in the grey pearl of dawn and thought to myself,

“Those nine miles of dirt road to get to the highway that will carry me to the county seat, is gonna be a muddy mess and a bear to travel”

Sigh.

I wasted a few moments, even then, contemplating my stupidity for not asking for a deference of service the week before….

I knew the weather forecast – and right or wrong – it’s Springtime in Colorado – and all is to be expected, whether it bodes well for me, personally or not, that particular day.

As the snow started to fall harder, but reported road conditions only said “poor visibility, high winds and wet roads” my heart sank.

No frozen hard service to slide along the ruts created before it froze. No closed roads.

Some how sliding across ice, to me, while more scary, is always less a mess, effort and trouble driving the same roads and getting mired into 3 feet of mud.

I prepared to ‘go out and about’ and gave myself a pep talk:

Just nine miles of muddy mess during which me and my aging truck will traverse without wrecking or getting stuck. Please, Please, Please, if anyone is listening to my prayers….Cuz I have nothing at this point, other than to depend up the divine forces I still don’t claim to understand. Thanks!

I DO, however, spend some cowardly moments, contemplating what it might look like if I call in sick or to report vehicle troubles.

I am, human afterall? Maybe?

But I just can’t figure out a way for any ‘fictional story’ to be told, that is also, true for me – at all – as, as my inner voice continually rebuts,

“You just don’t want to go, you coward! Stop trying to avoid that which you don’t want to do, and just go already! If you’re not meant to be there, sure as shooting, you’ll not arrive.”

I still hope that my truck that wouldn’t start two weeks ago, ACTUALLY needed a new alternator instead of a new battery.

No such luck – I replaced the battery that served for 7….8 years? With a new one and well –

The truck starts right up, warms up and there are no saving graces to be had, that are the truth, in reality, just now and I set out.

3 miles into the wilderness of mud?

Max speed is 30 mph. But hovers around 20-25 mph.

I know – those stuck in rush hour traffic of metro areas for decades are laughing at me, wondering just what my problem is.

Sometimes, even with good tires on and straw bales heavy with moisture in the bed of the truck to provide better traction for the rear-wheel drive axle that sits at the end of full length truck bed, I find myself grasping the wheel, two handed – hands at 10 and 2 or 9 and 3, whatever feels right, given my diverse training between Driver’s Ed and Emergency driving fronts –

Training that occurred on what to ‘do’ but happened nearly two decades apart –

Just confuses me in rationale,

So I continue, to this day, as I find myself in various traveling conditions, using one or the other as the case may be, but never fully rectifying the vast differences between the two instructions given. fully.

I adjust positions, but manage to grip the wheel just as tightly with each, while I accelerate to get enough speed to make it up the next hill, without bogging down and WITHOUT going so fast I lose control of the slippy sled of heavy, horsepower, destructive potential power, I’m in charge of right about now.

“Bad things happen when you underestimate the power you hold within your hands or overestimate your skills in holding that power in check”

My Dad’s simple ‘operate a motorized machine’ #1 rule – from chainsaws to minibikes, to motorcycles, to work trucks, with pressure cookers and propane tanks thrown in here and there. He also repeated this warning when we were out and I was learning gun safety.

I meet one vehicle, that poses danger to me.

I’m not fully in the middle of the road, but avoiding the soft edges and soggy ditches below, all the same.

The heavy duty, 3/4 ton, Ram 3500 with flat bed end, is roaring towards me, in what feels like approaching light speed, given my slow and cautious crawl, and I figure, they have and are in, 4wd mode.

You wade across pastures and country dirt roads to do your work, day in, day out?

You most likely invested in 4WD out here.

I dare not brake or slow down before I make it through this bog, just before the hill crest – and so, I hope this oncoming work truck is manned by one of my neighbors who is used to idiots traversing this roadway and since so many of my neighbors purchase grey or white 3/4 ton plain work trucks, and don’t purchase fancy colors/’cool! road cars/trucks’ to get ‘er done –

I don’t know if the approaching vehicle is driven by one I know who will forgive me, my sins, or one who will curse me over beers to their workmates at the end of the day and perhaps, for the rest of my life and theirs.

The driver moves over, effortlessly, closer to his side of the soft edges, waves and passes by and I take one tight handed grip off the wheel to turn on up a notch, the speed of my wiper blades.

I hope he sees my hand move for operations as a ‘howdy!’ wave, quick, before the wave of water and slush that flies out from his roaring, mud gripper tires, hits my windshield, and I drive blind for awhile.

I need a bigger truck and some mud gripper tires, really – Since I drive less than 2,000 miles a year, I figure, why waste the funds? But I see myself as a fool, for not doing. investing in such things, right about now.

I drive some feet – yards? Past our meeting, before I know, I am no longer moving slowly forward, totally blinded to what might lie before me – a small car, a baby calf, a deer, a bog that will roll me into the ditch –

Then, once more, I can see what is ahead of me – after the wave of slush and water splashes onto my windshield in a glaze that the warmed windshield cannot melt/dry fast enough with the defroster, but the ‘intermittant wiper setting’ needed before we met, is not smart enough to know,

“Um, maybe I should swish once more before the timer is up.”

I trust manual operations more than auto-computers, just saying. My truck has a computer, but it is old and not really, unless I connect via hardware freely provided by insurance companies, able to help with any needful things – It just reports how I accelerate, brake and speeds I traverse, so it can punish me in fees at it sees fit. That’s what I think about ‘savings’ add-ons from insurance companies – 😀

I don’t wreck, don’t cause him to wreck and I’m not flipped the bird nor is a fist shaked at me –

I give thanks for the ‘win’ and carry on.

Only two more hills to navigate, before I get to pavement – right?

I’ve been so stuck in a low visibility landscape and my own concentration to not wreck, I’m not entirely sure how far along the road I am.

The odometer tells me about where I should be, but the expanse of time argues with the odometer reading in my mind.

How close am I now? To the highway? That may be my saving grace OR my demon of death?

Who knows what the highway will look like, really?

Slick with wind driven flurries or wind frozen black ice or just wet, warm pavement to be traversed?

My blood pressure is finally spiking. I haven’t had to travel in adverse conditions weather or traffic, for so long, I have forgotten how to remember the full pep talk of all the years commuting to work – in urban, rural or both, conditions.

“Just another day of work, you’ve done it before, you can do it again.”

My neck and arms ache with the tense hold I have on the wheel – my anxiety to not wreck, hurt another, or tumble me and my truck into a deep ditch, due to lack of ‘paying attention’ and the brute strength needed at the steering wheel, given my soft, ‘worked in front of a computer all winter” muscles, must be applied also, with the gentlest and softest of responses, but with strength enough to fight the wheels, the steering wheel, the road -all at the same time.

Brute strength coupled with the softest of touches – Neither of which, let alone, singly, either one, am I very good at.

During a flat spot, with a different road base (over many years of application!) I remember to ‘rest myself’.

The going is easier, but I do not speed up.

I traverse it steadily while I do deep breathing exercises to calm my nerves and heart.

I relax a bit my arms, my neck, my upper body muscles, so they may have a break in this journey, too.

I breathe into my aching lower back, my tense and starting to scream in outrage, upper neck and shoulders, my aching hands –

But most of all, I breath into my fear, my heart and my anxiety –

“So Far, So Good”

I say out loud to myself. I’m much too focused to sing myself into calm. Al I can do is breathe and talk out loud to myself

And then, the next bog looms ahead – I can see it from here.

The different color of the earth – the tracks made by those who have gone before me.

I see where the water stands – separated in standing/moving, but only, just until!

I plow through and carve new channels for it to flow/settle into while it waits for the road base to absorb it fully.

I see how the wind and swirls are changing in the patterns of snow in front of my windshield, even as I work hard not to become mesmerized by the hypnotic trance of blowing snow.

I gird my loins, symbolically, with a deep breath and placing both hands on the wheel, but now?

No more do I feel the ache of my back, my neck, my arms.

No more do I feel my heart thudding in fear or worry.

My entire focus is on my truck, the steering wheel, and navigating the coming path to be walked.

All else fades away as I focus on the path before me.

The path I already decided must be traversed, and so, now nothing left to do, but to do it best as I can, with as little cursing as possible.

I let loose with a few choice words out loud, to relieve the inner stress, all while, my internal mind sings out Thanks and Hallelujah to the Divine for the moisture that has blessed our drought-ridden landscape, all while I curse having to navigate that same landscape, personally.

All while, the tracks made before me, and recognition from so long ago of patterns, like lions lurking in the grass, alert me to steer into the slide that will occur, sometime, during this hill – most likely, about 3/4s of the way up the hill.

This whole assessment takes place – the saint, the sinner, the grateful, the ungrateful, the warrior, the coward, all takes place without me even being consciously aware of it all.

I start the climb out in my lane, even closer than I would prefer, to the soft edges that fall away into deep ravines (to aide with run-off).

I don’t particularly have a death wish, on the other hand, it seems so much easier on my soul, and, perhaps? more honorable? in the end? to sacrifice myself than it is to sacrifice another just to make up for what I cannot do well, right about now – not in equipment, skills or nerves.

As I near the crest of the mushy hill – I hit the bad part,

And whether through fear of the ditches unconscious steering or by divine grace, the truck that carries me, that I’m in charge of, but feels as if I’m just a passenger on, floats effortlessly nearer the middle of the road- and completes the crest after steering askew into the slide.

The slide during which, the rear end of my full bed truck is way further over the the ‘middle line not marked’, than my truck’s front end is.

But, in luck, I’m not totally sideways and no oncoming traffic pops up over the hill, sliding into my tail end nor do I collide into another who was just making their way forward with no knowledge of what fate awaited them them just over the crest of the hill.

I’ve been ‘blessed’ by the grace of a the vehicle I’m in charge of turning full sideways on a country road, approaching a hill, and having the space and time to think upon meeting my maker and who’s death I will have to answer for, before.

No one died and I didn’t wreck and the wide open plains after the blizzard of Christmas, 1992, blessed me – but I’ve never forgotten that long slide and no way to avoid whatever happened by my own efforts.

I’m blessed by grace, that I do not believe I fully understand, once again.

The second hill that gives all the signs of being just as cantankerous, and has a long history of being more of a mess to navigate (at least in my mind!) is charged in my tense stubborness of ‘all in’ and taken in the same way as the one prior.

And blesses me with the time and space grace of the Universal Dance of nothing bad happening, even when, I had prepared myself for bad to happen.

And then, I am at the highway – waiting – to gauge the color and edge of the highway that indicates the high winds reported, which have lowered visibility, and may have delivered that beautiful opponent called, black ice.

Black Ice shows up when you weren’t expecting it.

It’s dangerous, but you cannot see it. You can only feel it through the extension of the feeling of your tires and the vehicle they are attached to, through to the steering wheel and the hands/arms you possess.

But sometimes? You can see it if you look carefully at the edges of the roadway.

Sometimes you can feel it and sense it just by having the window down and breathing in the changing air as you navigate across a landscape.

But not always.

I wait and see, best as I can, if the hills on each side of the intersection, might be hiding the oncoming traffic that is tooling along at speed limit or better. Because, perhaps, the roadway is wet, they don’t know better, or are confident in their equipment and skills.

And just here? Even if I pull out, there is no wide turn lane or shoulder to quickly navigate to if some one traveling at light speed pops along their merry way, over the hill and sees my rear-end, just in time to curse me to the heavens before smashing into me, and we both go flying into whatever the fates have deemed for that moment.

I make it safely onto the highway and over the coming miles, traveled through visibility, standing water, areas of slush, but no black ice, that I was aware of.

I manage not to wreck or get rear-ended for driving slower in some places than posted speed limit and in a hurry traffic behind me.

I made it 68 miles, round trip, safely.

I did that journey for two days in a row to do my civic duty to show up and either be chosen or dismissed.

COVID restrictions mean I can no longer just show up via mailed summons and be dismissed in one day.

I have answered every call for jury duty.

I believe jury trial, by a jury of ones peers, to be the single greatest thing in our country past the right to vote and speak our mind.

Alas, I’m never chosen for duty.

Whether because of my work history or because I answer the questionnaire honestly or whether I just look/speak like an idiot, I cannot tell you.

Thank goodness I remembered after checking chains, bottled watered, gloves, blankie, water, crackers and peanut butter, were packed in the truck, I remembered to grab a book off the shelf, to read for pure pleasure while I bided my time, waiting to be chosen or dismissed.

Not a ‘non-fiction’ learning book –

Instead, one chosen for the pure beauty of the story and how the words flow together to paint the story.

I chose an Ellis Peters, Brother Cadfael book – both day one and day two.

For, after arriving the first day, reading while I had a bite to eat, and then girding my loins for the trip back home, I simply arrived home and ‘had to finish the story’, even though I knew how the story ended, already.

I picked another title from the series, for the second day.

And the ones I chose, turned out to be books books about traveling 25 miles or less – over 3 – 7 days, on foot.

About murder by ne’er do wells along forest paths, civil war and the unrest and lawlessness that happens when leaders are vying for power over one another.

About the hope that when storms hit, and travel is slow and bandits or armies walk the land, in their own fights and destruction, there are always kind souls along the way that give a shelter, food, warmth, whatever they have to share, when another is in need.

During better roads/weather/visibility on the traveled way on day two of the journey?

I gazed about the hills and dales that pepper this eastern Colorado landscape as a ‘trial test’ of courage of uphill battles, that stood before pioneers in wagons facing the crossing of the Rocky Mountains and/or the Great Divide.

I thought of the reports made, regarding weeks spent to dig wooden wagon wheels out of deep spring mud, that may or may not have been broken.

Of broken axels, or wagons that stopped for illness or child birth and then carried on by themselves, and hoped to catch the main train of collective protection, before the truly hard landscape, hard weather or known ‘enemy territory’ became the reality to be faced.

I thought of Native American tribes who traveled in bad weather, through need or stress from enemies, who patiently stopped as needed, their forward movement, to remove mud from the hooves of horses that carried them, their homes and their food stores.

And, I thought of those tribes who pushed on in hunger, bad weather, crappy trail and landscape traveling, all to try to reach some measure of safety after those who promised safety shelter, and food, lied or turned a blind eye to give up to slaughter, those who were seen as easy targets to ‘make an example of.” by those who hadn’t. struggled/suffered that much at all, really.

I said 9-miles and I thought to only write 1,000 words to replace the ‘picture’

If you haven’t already guessed, I didn’t stop to take a picture of it all – 😀

And “they” say a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

I didn’t take a picture, but for me? The words written, the hopes, dreams, fears and journey I walked, both in the external world and my internal one, the past few days?

Well – one picture and only 1,000 words?

Not enough – for me, on any level. I’m not an artist, nor do I say anything in short, succinct ways –

And well – perhaps, you’ll never see 9 miles the same, or perhaps you always will.

Not mine to say – my only job is to tell you about my 9-miles.

One Bright Day….

A couple of posts I read today, reminded me of a ditty I was taught long ago – I shall type it out as I remember it and THEN go look it up and see if I can find it –

Simply because? I was taught various ditties over the ages, that were the ‘cleaned up for children/polite society’ only to learn later, upon trying to link, directly to it?

The whole thing was much darker and full of adult humor than even I, in my adulting years, and cursing ways, was okay with ‘reposting’ for consumption – LOL

One bright day, in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight.

Back to back they faced each other.
Drew their swords and shot each other.

The deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came and killed the two dead boys.

If you don't believe what I say is true.
Ask the blind man, he saw it too.

Okay – I looked at a couple of sites – one that had a thread full of versions and one that tried to find the ‘origin’ of the poem/story –

I leave it to you, to do your own search and read which of the many sites refer to it, threads that discuss it.

For me?

It comes to mind often, when I see vastly conflicting news or views while ‘out and about reading in cyber land’ and neither sides’ version of events is really making total sense to me – – 😀

Springtime In Colorado

Blizzards have been on my mind, although, overall, nothing to compare with blizzards of the past. Just moisture that arrives, with cold, and aching joints (me!) and then melts into the ground with no shoveling, the next day.

And thus, I am carried down memory lane, on multiple fronts, where Blizzard plays a central role in the story, and yet, so many things on human fronts seem not to have changed that much from around 35 years ago.

Winter of 1985/1986

I am a Student, Minimum Wage, Waitress

I have a friend’s house to stay at, because the storm moved in after I traveled to work, and needn’t risk the trip home in the rural landscape of 42 miles between me and home.

Busy night – Those who have secured hotel lodgings in the town that is major hub of freeways in rural American hang out, having one more glass of beer or wine, because it’s better than sitting in the hotel room by themselves.

Those who didn’t score a hotel room? Clear off early to move to the local public school gymnasium or personal house from local citizen that offers to house a traveler with bed/board for the night or the duration of the blizzard.

I wait on folks, serve and request those on my team old enough to ACTUALLY serve the liquor order I just took, checked the ID to comply with legal, age restrictions for, but am not old enough to leagally pull from the tap/pour from the wine bottle, and deliver myself.

A Family of Four

A family of four, traveling back east from their 2 week skiing vacation, sit in my section.

They wear clothes and jewelry that tell me, they are better off than I or most folks I know.

They sit at a dirty table the first moment the previous customers of that table leave, and are kind and gracious, while I apologize for the wait, all I wipe it off for them…

(and while I worry I might somehow wipe crumbs onto her fur coat, instead of into my hand or onto the floor I will sweep/vacuum later, during closing operations, or when the manager walks the dining room and chews me out for not keeping my section of the floor crumb-free, just while trying to clean their eating space in a hurry….)

They order – I deliver food – check back. My older coworker, a cook, gets tired and yells at me for ‘selling booze he has to deliver, in between keeping food prepped and coming out of the oven as fast as possible.” while he tries to do his job.

He also yells throughout the dining room because I haven’t scurried back from taking an order, from a new table, to pickup the order that he has prepared to be served piping hot and fresh.

He takes pride in his work.

So do I.

Somewhere between “I’ll leave you with a few more minutes to decide what the hell you want” and “Sorry, you didn’t order fast enough, I have to deliver an order and I’ll be back soon” lies the golden mean in customer service

But tonight?

The cook and I have become each other’s enemies regarding what each of us think is important or what the manager/owner have drilled into us each, as important.

The line of those stranded and wishing to eat, drink and be merry or moan over the ruination of their travel/work plans, never stops, for either of us.

I will be sleeping tonight, at some point, at the house of my best friend from high school – –

Whose husband is also the cook I’m pissing off and frustrating just now.

But, tables to clean, salad bar to restock, orders to take, and weather report questions to answer, takes precedence and I’ll just deal with whether I sleep on the couch in the living room or out in the dog house, when quitting time finally arrives.

The Flood of Customers slowly wanes into a Trickle

Folks leave to score a warm place to stay the night for free, after realizing they pulled off freeway to late to get a hotel room.

Or they go back to their hotel room to sleep out the storm, hoping for a better morrow.

A table that seats 6, but is now seating 10, right next to the booth holding the family of four is full of lone wolf truck drivers, who move needed supplies from this end of the nation to the other, every durn day of their career.

They love they can get pizza and beer without doing more than walking across the white out lot between their semi with extended cab or hotel room they scored and the restaurant.

They are getting pretty ramped up over the freedom to have a beer or six, instead of one more cup of coffee, this time of night.

I slap away a hand here and there, while waiting on their table – laugh and turn away to avoid groping hands from those who try to grab my waist or slap my toosh.

Too much beer? Lonely night ahead? Lonely nights in the past?

Most lone wolf travelers get lonely and beer served only means, they feel braver or don’t recognize fully, their actions when all they seek is to end the loneliness in their hearts.

They just don’t don’t always see it.

They are human.

So am I.

The table full of truckers are getting more loud while they tell their jokes.

Mom and Dad from ‘urban well-to-do’ family, squirm a tad, and frown in judgement, over what they consider low class behavior – and yet, they have no wish to leave the chance to have one more beer/glass of wine – even while their young teen children, squirm with boredom, just across the booth from them.

The kiddos are doing their best to sit still, while mom and dad have one more.

And the Dance Begins to Meet Needs and Hold the Line-

I clear plates, request more booze be delivered to the tables in my section. I stop to check in, listen to stories, answer questions, slap away a hand or tell a more family friendly joke to keep the one table entertained and roaring, while the booth 3 feet from them cannot see or understand the lonely existence of life on the road.

They cannot see it for themselves, or the many that sit a few feet away from them – though, to me, they are all lonely.

All while the cook/person old enough to deliver booze orders I just took, and have assured him we are not ‘over serving someone’, does so because, even while he chews me out for being too young and giving way to customer requests, simply because, he gets a bonus for sales profits made over the quarter, ( he is working is way up the corporate ladder, overall), all while he also tries to focus on practicing his food craft that he is proud of.

Make piping hot food, without moving past the “3 oz of pepperoni” for this menu item ordered….

Supply & profit margins, that are strictly enforced by the company that owns the business we work within.

We are all, the entire crew on duty, trained and schooled well in maximizing sales while minimizing costs and keeping customer satisfaction high – all at the same time.

The manager looked around about 4 hours ago and announced he was ‘going home while he still could’ and left us to our fate.

That’s what our job is.

Once the worst of the rush is over?

I announce I’m going to clean the women’s bathroom, and I lock myself in it…and hide from everyone else while I clean up the mess left by others.

Just for a moment, I hide in the bathroom.

I cry while I clean the toilets.

Because tonight has been too much for my spirit and I need a release from it all.

So, I cry.

Too many demands and too many needs to be met, all while I know, not meeting those needs?

Won’t end well for me.

There is always someone else better at such things than I am and well, they would just jump at the chance to have the job I do.

I’ve been trained and schooled well.

The truckers’ tablemates, one by one leave.

I see the change in various places on the table, small piles of pennies and nickles and wonder,

“Why did I wait on them so fervently? Why did I care for them when it’s obvious they don’t value me, that much”

And then I pick up the final glasses/plates, and under each, is a $10 or $20 – or a napkin that reads, “Thanks for taking care of us tonight” with a $1 or a $5.

My heart melts and I realize, I didn’t understand that they understood and appreciated me/my role, as quickly as I might have.

When one is a tip-dependent staff member?

The tips left, indicate only one of two things –

Either someone paid you for the privilege of abusing you, OR they pay you because you made a difference at that moment in their life.

There are different kinds of “TIPS” in this world and I’d rather get stiffed/not paid than believe that someone gets to treat me anyway they believe they can, simply because they paid for the privilege of doing so.

I still, to this day, feel the same way.

The Working Folks leave before the On Vacation Folks do

Okay – I let vacation family we are approaching closing time.

Do they want one more dessert? One more drink? To consume before we close and kick them out?

I’ve heard the stories from the kids.

I’ve shared stories of Colorado, in springtime, and blizzards past.

Of death, destruction and folks who died trying to survive them. And why they shouldn’t try to find a way past the blockade, but just take the ‘night off’.

And they share a part of their story, their history, with me.

What they care about and I just spent hours meeting them, share for share, with my own story, what is a part of me, and what I care about –

And the wife, with the luxurious full-length, fur coat (she let me touch it, it was so soft and silky!) and rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, says to me,

“Why are you just a waitress? You are smart enough you could be so much more! Why are you wasting yourself here? “

I got so frustrated, I risked not getting paid for the night of waiting on them. ( I hadn’t yet cleared the trucker table, and figured, it was a loss, too, despite my best attempts to wait upon, serve, etc.), I could do nothing more than cry out with my heart – my full inner being…

“Yes, okay, you think I’m ‘too smart’ to waste away in this job, but aren’t you GLAD I was here? Didn’t you receive good service? Didn’t you get what you were in need of, just now? I like to think I work hard doing what I do and it is a service needed by others, but you just told me, I provide it, it’s appreciated, but you think I’m wasting myself, and you don’t really value the job or people like me who do the job. How will you eat out if no one else chooses to do this job?”

That’s a paraphrase. I’m sure I didn’t say all that, I may have only mumbled, “But aren’t you glad we are open and waiting on you tonight?”

I remember, both of the tween kids looking at their mom and nervously looking at me.

Kids and pets always pick up things faster than many adults do, to my way of thinking.

And the husband looked down, took another drink of his beer and said nothing.

Bless her heart, though, she looked at me and said,

“Yes, I’m glad you are here. You really made this night so much better. I just get mad that someone as smart as you has to put up with those kind of goons” (as she waved her hand towards the now empty truckers table) and well, you could just be so much more – I don’t want you settle for less.”

Which was kind of her.

Especially after I got mad, spoke my mind and she had the courage to keep on going with the conversation….

I got it, I guess, overall, but I still don’t get it, overall, to this day….

I don’t get how anyone disparages menial laborers that provide the very services and goods they so depend upon, for wanting to earn enough to live on.

I don’t understand friends and family who don’t tip, no matter how good the service when national and state standards here and there allow employers to pay well below minimum wage.

I don’t understand why anyone would go work in a ‘tip sharing’ place so they could bust their butt, and carry the load for a lazy co-worker who will make the same amount or more, than the ones working hard.

I still, to me, do not get any of it.

But for many places and portions of time, as I worked in menial, tip-based, jobs?

Yup – there are so many disappointments, and yet, over and over again, there were those who surprised me as well as those who disappointed me.

Last week?

I did the testing for Safe Food Handling and Food Allergy Safety state certificate courses.

I signed up and first did these courses, on my own, 2 years ago, just in case I should be asked to lend a helping hand at the local farmer’s market.

This year? For $18 and 2 hours of my internet/learning time?

I watched the videos, did the exercises, passed both tests with 100% test scores.

But the entire time I did the training, I couldn’t forget –

“For these folks, who work everyday, who have to have this certification in order to work?

They are responsible for the health of their customers, even if one allergic to shellfish wants to eat out at a seafood restaurant with her friends who are too dense to take her needs into account –

They are responsible for the profitability of their employer –

They must always know the right thing to do at just the right time, to avoid wrongful death, health code violations and fines for their employer.

They often have to fight their employer, local procedures, coworkers, etc., to fulfill their duties and responsibility for everyone involved -and be HAPPY to do so, so as to avoid ‘whining about’ the job they take pride in, but others deem ‘a waste of a life.”

And all that is required, on minimum wage or less, while told, if they want to make more money, to learn more skills, “or do more”, or “not waste themselves?” from the society around them.

They ought to be doing something else, they are told.

I wish all of them would do something else, just to make a point, overall.

I am okay with eating out, but I can walk away from it in a nano second to support them.

It will be interesting to see how much of PPL, Restaurant & Bar recovery $ actually go to the front line workers in wages, paid time off, hazard pay, etc.

I doubt, I or anyone else will really know, until 20 years from now how government grants and loans, really played out for the front line, boots on the ground, folks who show up, to serve and take pride in the job they do.

On the Other Hand?

Back at my friend’s house, and long after she had gone to sleep, because she was opening crew the next morning – her husband (the cook that spent most of the night yelling at me), opened the fridge, took out a beer and said, “you want one?” and opened it and asked if I wanted a glass pour it in.

He sat at the table while I counted my tips, logged them in my ledger, and did the math for gas/car expenses, etc., the next week.

And he talked aloud while we sat and I quietly drank my beer (oh, how good it tasted!)

You did a good job tonight on turning tables over. I’m sorry that trucker’s table didn’t leave you much – I wanted to come out and hit them, but I was too busy in kitchen. You fended them off well. So, did the rich skiiers make up for the lousy tippers you had?

And I told him – both the truckers and the rich skiiers had both tipped me really well – for the hours I waited upon them.

He was surprised, and said,

“I wouldn’t have expected it, but well, I was too busy to see all that was going on. I’m going to bed. Bedding is on the couch and if you’re hungry or want another beer, just take it. BUT don’t tell anyone about the beer, you’re underage, ya know.”

I made up my couch bed, had food from the fridge (it had been too busy for us to take a meal break) and I had another beer.

And, he’s dead or living somewhere else, now, as far as I know.

That restaurant is passed on to new ownership many times and well – it is what it is.

As far as I know, he never got in trouble for contributing to the delinquency of this minor.

The truckers kept on doing their job and enjoyed their one night of freedom from coffee and a desolate highway, in the middle of the night, for a change.

The vacationers lived their lives with, perhaps, a different perspective than they had before ever they sat there that evening, in my section.

I’ll never know – For Sure

But I am convinced –

Minimum wage doesn’t begin to cover the price paid and gifts gained when, on one night, we all showed up to be ourselves, in one moment of space/time, and well, it will never pay for the education I received that night, that I still, cannot forget.

All because of, a blizzard.

The Typist’s Lament

I wish to be a writer.

I’m more of a typist.

A typist that can often keep up, to some degree, with taking dictation from her own mind.

A mind that yearns to hear and tell stories.

To write stories she wants to tell.

To be a writer.

Each pass through a typed story – it grows longer in word count.

More editing needed to make the transitions smooth from original thought, and two hours later?

I need to split this out into a different story/a different chapter.

I’m tired now.

I’ll write something for my blog tomorrow.

I need to post something! Easter is long over.

Note to self.

Don’t re-blog a post tied to holiday on the calendar posts, UNLESS you already have a more current one written and ready to auto-publish.

I’m deep in typing the dictation of my mind.

I’m deep in the writer’s lament – the typist’s lament.

“Okay – so what was first sentence, grew into 2 – grew into current story, back story, fleshed out. Now? You’ve added, rewritten various lines so damn much? You have successfully churned out 5, 527 words most of which tell a story – but now? You have to edit it – let it sit. Maybe get back to it in a day or two – “

But I won’t.

History has proven to me I’ll let it sit.

Perhaps for 10 years.

Never go back and edit/break it out into a more beautiful dance.

Maybe to delete forever in a fit of pure frustration.

Oh so many words thought, dictated, typed, over the years, have been deleted.

Over and over and over – though the theme of them – their dance – the memories within them return to pay a visit every so often.

One that is from start to finish, compiled of one right word, phrase, sentence –

That all flows into the next one.

I should have stopped for the day around the first, furiously pounded out draft.

I should have stopped and been done for day.

But I couldn’t bear not to re-read – remind myself of another point, start fiddling with things and hours later?

A tome that will probably never see the light of day –

At least, not in this format.

Easier to just re-write it.

Easier to hear back the words and lines I loved.

Easier to write brand new than to go back and try to make sense out of that non-edited, added too many words to, stream of being a typists.

I don’t know if I’ll ever learn how to do that.

I start to despair if I ever will learn how to stop soon enough….

Or if I shall ever learn to revisit often enough.

The Purple Draped Statue

It is, as I was recently reminded, now 14 years since it happened. It’s been 4 years since I finally wrote about it. But still, to me, Easter Miracles abound, in so many ways, in so many years – but the lesson I learned long ago, that I had forgotten this past year, was ‘remembered’ once more

The Good, Bad and Ludicrous

Last week, at some point (last week is rather blurry with the long days and unexpecteds that arrived…) I awoke to a feeling of dread –

And perused the morning’s dream data bank to ask why such a thing had happened.

I dreamed of being in a white hall, with marble floor, and a statue in a foyer – but I can’t see the statue.  I’m curious, but because I’m a stranger, here, don’t feel I have the right to lift the purple cloth covering it to see what it is….

And I awake with dread, a heart gripped with fear and yet, a tiny, stubborn, determination to see it through.

***********

No kidding, it took the jarring of the computer calendar displayed date, to remind me – yesterday – where I was 10 years ago, at Easter time.  And just why the old memory had triggered such a strong response…

View original post 818 more words