Talking Out Loud In My Head

Elizabeth Cole

It's Friday night. I survey my section, paste a pleasantly bland smile on my face, and get on with it. As I approach my first customer I'm not expecting anything original and sure enough, he isn't.

"Hey doll, whatcha doin' tonight?"
I respond with the ease that comes from too much practice at this game.
"Hello, can I get you anything from the bar?"
I'm working, you moron, what does it look like?
"Ya, I wanna pint and kin I git one of them burger specials?"
"Certainly, I'll get that for you right away."
It's may I have, not kin I git...
"Thanks doll"
"You're welcome, sir."
Webster's definition of doll: "small scale figure of a human being...." My definition of sir: idiot.

"Hey waitress, we need you over here."
"Hi there, what do you need?"
Besides professional help...
"We'll get another round for the table, but we need it right away, okay?"
"Yes, I'll be right back."
Right away? How about whenever I get back to your table?

I cruise back to the bar with my orders, punch them into the till, and wait for Steve, the bartender from hell, to do his job.
"I noticed you got a real cutie in your section, that one in the blue dress -- think you can get her number for me?"
"I think she's with someone, Steve."
And if she's not, she's better off alone than with a slimy slut like you, Steve.

I'm loading drinks onto my tray when another waitress starts talking to my waistline.
"How the hell do you stay so slim at your age?"
"Oh well, you know, it's just in my genes, I guess..."
At my age? Aren't I younger than you?
"Do you starve yourself or what? You're so lucky, people like you just make me sick."
"Well, I try to look after myself a bit... I gotta get this order out."
Try saying no when they ask if you want fries with that...

"What's yer problem? Why ya cuttin' me off?"
"I'm sorry, ma'am, I don't have a choice. I can't serve you anymore alcohol tonight."
I guess you're too drunk to have noticed the floor on your face a minute ago.

"Hey honey, wouldja like to come over after work and get to know me a little better?"
"No, thank you, I already have plans."
Interesting though, how you manage to remind me of a lizard, a carp, and a rat all at the same time.

"Are you getting my beer some time tonight or... what?"
"Yes, it's coming right away."
No, actually I was going to get it sometime next week. Is that all right with you or... what?

The night grinds on in a smoky haze of people who should know better, people who should care more, or less, and people who should bathe more often. It's okay. My temper is parked and my mood is firmly detached. I can get through this.

"I'm sick of this place. I wanna get outta here."
"Can I call you a cab, then?"
"Naw, piss off, leave me alone."
"All right."
Sorry to see you go, you've been so much fun to hang out with tonight.

"Hey sweetie, c'mere, I wanna pay my tab."
"All right, your bill comes to $49.57."
"Ya wanna tip?"
"Well, that's up to you..."
Are your parents related?
"So uhhh sweetheart, you want just the tip, or the whole shaft..."
"That's $49.57, please."
You disgusting waste of space.
"No sense of humor, huh? Here's fifty keep the change."
"Have a good night."
Or trip over your ego and get hit by a semi.

It's closing time. Last call for alcohol. The DJ plays the last song, the reality lights come on, and the desperate make their final moves. I face a room littered with dirty ashtrays, empty glasses and bottles, and semi-conscious scraps of humanity. It's okay. I just have to pack them up, ship them out, clean up after them, and I'll be done. I can do this.

"Hey, can you get me another beer?"
"No, I'm sorry, we're closed."
"Nah, you're not closed. Get me a beer."
"We're closed."
And you seem to have lost your shoes... have fun with that.

"Hey, I can't find my purse, what did you do with it?"
"I'm sorry, I haven't seen it."
"But I left it right there, where did it go!"
"I'm sorry, I don't know."
Maybe it got up and walked out with that guy's shoes...

"Hey, what happened to the music?"
"Time to drink up guys, time to go."
"Ya, but we're not done, we're partying, girl."
"I'm sorry, but we're closed."
The loser train is pulling out, all aboard!

"Hey, you wanna go for a ride on my bike, honey? Or do you just wanna go for a ride?"
"No thank you."
"Ahh c'mon, I know what you need!"
"No thank you."
Are you an alien?

I take a few minutes to cash out. Time to hand in the amazing amount of money I've collected for the people I work for and count my reasons for choosing to help make them rich. One hundred, one fifty, one seventy, one ninety, plus about thirty in change -- As usual, I've earned enough in tips to provide for myself and those who love me unconditionally. Enough to dig us out of debt and degradation. Enough to do more than just survive, without help from anyone.

While I slip a comfortable pair of sweats and a T-shirt on over the ridiculous sequined crop top and short shorts that identify me as "staff" the voices of well-meaning but confused family and friends whisper,
"Why do you go there, how can you work in that place?
Why do you do this to yourself?"
Because I can!

© Elizabeth Cole

Elizabeth Cole has just moved to a regional park in Saskatchewan with a few special people, a weird dog, and "too many cats." She has dared herself to try living the life she's always telling her friends to try, which means not worrying about what people say or think, and doing whatever makes you strong and happy. The former publisher of a women's magazine, she is writing and growing herbs.

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