Well, it was a monday, and I was walking slowly to work, to the Diner. I wore Edna’s old sweatshirt, but half way there, I took it off and tied it around my waist. People said it was spring, the season. Maybe late spring, it was warming up. I was so grateful for that, at least. I hate cold, wet or dry… And just yesterday, I actually turned the wall heater in the living room of my house off. It was not coming on any more, and the last gas bill I got for the house… That wall heater scares me too. I was glad to finally shut it down. I was able to figure that part out, at least. I needed someone else to actually light it for me last christmas (Delores). But lately, work clothes and my two blankets, and I was fine. And good riddence to that heater… well, until next winter…

I left for the Diner a little early so I could double-check the cleaning and such. Well, and I had trouble sleeping the night before, too. Lately, I keep having this same dream, more like a nightmare… I would hear the order up bell ring, then EVERYONE in the Diner would put their hand up at the exact same time, and say “Uhm, Miss!” The nightmare was me trying to frantically calm down every single agitated customer, running from table to table…

“When will our burgers be ready?”

“Can I have another order of fries?”

“This burger has avacado on it, and I hate avacado”

“You are out of (any soda name)”

In my dream the diningroom is huge. And as I try to calm each customer, many more would speak up. Their voices slowly speed up to where… Then I wake up, breathing fast, and crying as quietly as I can… Well, this is not the best way to start a day, especially if you work at a restaurant…

But I got to the Diner, and checked all the cleaning, then made sure everything was ready. Mondays are usually busy for us… well, for me… It wasn’t long before the lunch rush hit. On mondays, fridays and saturdays, this often starts soon after I arrive. This monday was no exception. A bunch of locals (families who actually live in this tiny town) came through too. Smack dab in the middle of that lunch rush, I was in the middle of taking an order. One of the little girls, one of the local’s kids, ran up to me, and pulled gently on my shirt. I stopped taking the order briefly, looked down at her and smiled. “You are the most beautiful girl in the world” she said enthusiastically.

“I… Aw…” is what came out of my mouth.

She waited a few seconds, then said “April fools!” then she ran back to their table.

I heard her just a little older brother say “Wow, I didn’t think you would do that!” Well, he was clearly amazed.

The little girl answered boastfully “Now it’s your turn. Go tell Maude she is the ugliest girl in the world.”

“No way…” the older brother said frowning, and with his arm crossed.

I looked back at the couple that was ordering, and apologized. “Kids…” I said with a smile, then continued taking their order. But that really hurt, inside. I wanted to go cry buckets… But my head wouldn’t let me… And I couldn’t even go cry quietly right now… The day had barely started…

Those kids were soon gone, and I survived the lunch rush. In the middle of the afternoon, I opened a few windows to get some fresh air in, and some cooking smoke out. Then I heard the delivery truck pull into the back parking lot. It is a good thing that truck comes in the middle of the afternoon… The way Edna described it, there seemed to be a running feud regarding who was actually supposed to unload the food this truck delivered. There was, is no feud. We, the Diner, specifically the cook, absolutely needs each delivery. I think the delivery ‘help’ realized, that if they didn’t help at all, we would of course be forced to unload it all ourselves, because we needed this stuff. I remember Edna saying that she and the cook usually did the unloading. And when I came, only a few weeks later, I was the one doing it. So, ya, that was just the way things were (are) now. If we wanted our food, we (I) have to unload it.

I just resign myself to doing it. Throw it on the pile, hold it at arm’s length. I know where everything goes, and, well, it’s just easier than the driver getting mad and putting stuff right outside the back door of the Diner. (That happened once too, because I was busy and didn’t hear.) I walked through the kitchen, propped the back door open, and started unloading. I usually get the frozen stuff first, and get it into our big freezer so it can freeze again. I dont think they run those noisy cooler things on their trucks, probably to save them some money… I went back to start taking the refrigerator stuff…

“Hey, sweetie, how are you today?” I guessed he was talking to his girlfriend, or something… Not me, of course… Then I saw he was talking into his cell phone thing. And I only heard his side of that conversation, but it didn’t matter… I was wrestling with a big box of milk.

“Oh, that’s right, you work tonight.

“Nah, easy drive. Not much traffic.”

He was listening briefly, then he stopped and laughed loudly. “No way, the zombie eyed food service worker is doing that. I’m a valued employee!” He said this, then he laughed some more. I froze when he said that. He just ignored me. I carried that (heavy) box of milk down the ramp… I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh, yell, cry, scream…

But… I really couldn’t do any of that… He was right… That… Edna wanted me to keep the Diner going. I was doing that. That was all I was doing. I loved Edna, but I didn’t need the reminder. I was already keeping so much barely at arm’s length. That was how I could function. I wondered how much more I could take, how much longer I could… It had been four months since Edna died, since I was now doing what she had done until I came along. Well, she lived to be 98, so I don’t know… Still, I was tempted to walk away, and let him figure out that he needed to help unload too, unless he didn’t mind leaving a lot later. That just made it hard for the cook though, and probably for me too. And he would probably just throw everything out of the truck, down to the driveway anyway… I finished unloading, and walked inside without saying a word… Of course he knew when I had unloaded every last carton, and he was soon on his way.

Dinner rush came quickly. At least we had more potatoes for fries now. Well, we were low on a bunch of things until that delivery truck came. The cook actually thanked me for bringing stuff in. He is the one that used it. Well, at least he appreciated my work.

Towards the end of the dinner rush, a salesmoron came in, sat down, and just asked for coffee. I knew he was a salesmoron, I could just tell. Well, he asked me right away what I was doing tonight as he took a sip from his coffee while looking at his tablet thingie. He didn’t even look up at me when he asked… He wasn’t really even paying attention to me, and he wanted me in bed with him? I answered by walking off. I took some more orders, and things slowed down. He was soon out too, and all the locals left. I started cleaning. At least it wasn’t real dark when I was done. I walked out the front door, and locked myself out. I turned around and that same salesmoron was standing there, right behind me. “Come on, Maude…” he pleaded. “Just bring a guy a little comfort before he has to journey across that stinking desert…”

I was angry. “Certainly not with you…” I said, hoping at least a little of my disgust came out with those words.

He reached his hand up, patted me on the top of my head and said “There, there, Maude… Please?”

What he did, where he patted my head, it hurt… monstrously… Failing to contain my rage, I slapped him, hard. “Leave me ALONE” I said loudly.

I heard him say “Ow…” and that was it. I didn’t really care. I just wanted him away from me… He had the sense to not follow me.

Then I walked off around the Diner to the back parking lot, then I walked home. My head POUNDED all the way home, and most of that night. And, it hurt so bad, I could just barely cry a little… Still, I figured this much out…

“Most beautiful zombie eyed food service worker piranha bait…”

That was my life in a nutshell…

Four months since Edna died… Another stinking hot summer was about to… I had trouble thinking how much longer I could even do this…

————————-

1. Maude: Meanderings is copyright 2017 by Shysage.

 

 

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