She’s very young, no more than eighteen or nineteen, but she already knows how to work the tiny area at the coffee shop. Smile, lean forward just a bit, hope for a tip of some sort, and back to the kitchen where she has some serious conversation going with the other waitress. They stand close together, hands touching a shoulder or a waist, but this isn’t sexual; it’s the type of intimacy between friends young women share. Men this same age aren’t as apt to touch one another, but between these two there is a shared sisterhood if nothing else, gossip.
The blonde isn’t a small woman at all. She’s a thick bodied creature but she is also graceful. She isn’t overweight just not slender. It’s a body type that will follow her all her life, and there is evidence she’s working out. This one has real muscle tone in her quads. I haven’t seen her at the Y but it could be she’s working out elsewhere. She’s dressed entirely in white, but her bra is a beige color. I find myself fascinated by the idea someone so young is already using her sexuality for tips, but looking back at my own life, I knew much younger women who did the same thing. Put a sixteen year old in a family restaurant in South Georgia and she’ll learn very fast a smile is not just a smile. Done well a smile is worth a couple of dollars more than just a smile. Show some teeth, show enough cleavage to make them look for more, and hope like hell mama isn’t watching when you lean over. Oh yeah, I knew one who did this, and did it well.
The blonde giggles with her partner in crime but realizes she’s being inattentive. She looks back into the small area where there are half a dozen tables and looks down at her pad to see who has what and when they came in. This is a different world than the one I knew when I was in the restaurant business. The pad she carries in a minicomputer and it has an overview of the dining area and the orders are all done electronically. There’s even a picture of the customer superimposed over each table and I wonder how much information it saves. Get the same customer in several times and your pad can remember the weak spots like cinnamon rolls or extra shots of espresso. But the blonde doesn’t seem to be predatory right now; the other woman has her attention with whatever it they’re conspiring over. The blonde checks her pad, goes forth with refills of regular coffee, leans over to see what I am writing, realizes my handwriting is indecipherable, and heads back with a flourish.
This one has a natural walk. Her hips roll in a way that suggests she hasn’t practiced walking the way some women have. There’s a degree of swing that becomes fake and it’s cumbersome to watch. She doesn’t have the body for that exaggerated rock and I don’t know if she’s ever tried it and quit, or never thought about it at all. I know a woman who has a back and forth motion that is nearly comical. It’s one thing to look like that in the movies but quite another when you’re at work.
Her friend is another matter altogether. She’s working the cash register and she’s more outgoing and more active. She’s going full tilt on the flirty thing and it’s working with some of the guys who order. I know better, but I didn’t always. There have been times in my life I’ve been worked for tips and never knew it, but those days are gone forever. I just want some coffee and to write, and to watch the blonde for a bit.
“You okay?” The blonde has snuck up on me. She has the refill carafe and a smile. She’s also got the pad tucked into a pouch. I ask about it and she shows it to me about the time the other women shrieks out loud. An obscene message very lewdly suggesting I’m lusting after the blonde pops up on the screen right as she turns it towards me. The blonde reads it at the same time I do and she says, “Oh my god!” and flees. The other woman heads out to where my table is, retreats, apologizes profusely and is nearly knocked down by the retreating blonde who has turned a shade of red not found anywhere else in nature.
I should go, I know, and make it easy on both of them, but what’s life if you can’t have a little fun? Yet getting the blonde out of the backroom will take some doing, and the other woman, well, she’s withdrawn to the cash register and even from a distance I can tell she’s also burning red. I’m fairly certain I could simply walk out without paying my bill and those two would gladly never say a word but I cannot resist.
“How much do I owe you?’ I say blandly and the woman is to the point of tears. The sheer embarrassment factor here is bad enough, but she also has to worry about getting fired, and maybe even the blonde killing her at this point.
“LookImterriblysorryIdidntmeanforyoutoseethatpleasedontgetmefirediamsososososossorryillpayforyourcoffeeokaythanks” and I can tell she would rather do anything on earth than have this conversation with me right now. She is as distressed as she can possibly get and still have her clothes on.
“Okay, just tell me if this breaks into your top ten most embarrassing moments of your life.” I stand there and she sighs. I will not go away instantly, but there is some relief. I’m not yelling or angry and that does help.
“Easily,” she says trying to smile, “I”ll pay for your coffee, okay?’ Please, please, please leave and never come back I just want to die, is what she would like to say.
“What’s your manager’s name?” I ask and her face changes colors again, this time it’s a deeper red than ever before. She has to resign herself to the agony of someone else seeing what she sent, or at least hearing about it.
“Steve.” And with this I can see a little anger in her. She’s ready to start fighting back, and it’s time to let her off the hook.
“Tell Steve he hired a psychic.” It takes her a couple of seconds to realize what I mean, but as I walk out the door she bursts into real laughter.