Before I worked at the CB, I never could have imagined I would meet the people I have met or that I would become so close to people so vastly different from myself. Call me narrow-minded, but most of my good friendships up to that point had been with people who were very similar to me- they were all close in age, had a similar upbringing, and shared many of my same interests. That’s not to say I would shun people that were different than me; it’s just the way things happened to work out.
Many of my shifts start in the bright sun-shiny early morning hours or end late at night when the restaurant is empty of customers. These are the hours of the day when you can truly get to know someone- times like right before they’ve had their morning coffee or right as they’re about to get their after-work beer. Trapped in a locked restaurant until a manager is able to walk you out, you really get to know things about a person’s love life. Get to work at six in the morning and people are more willing to talk about plastic surgery or their experiments with acid in the 70’s. Work with someone for two years and you’ll learn all of the details of their three marriages.
I’ve met a myriad of different kinds of people, and it’s funny how I’ve gotten so attached to people I might not have if I didn’t work where I do. There is a 40 year old grill cook I’ve dubbed “Lil’ Ray Ray,” even though there’s nothing little about his 250 pounds. It’s just funny. There’s Ruben and Oscar, both from Guatemala. Ruben has jokingly asked my mother if she’d like to be his mother-in-law, and Oscar speaks to me only in Spanish. I speak very little Spanish, but over the last couple of years he’s been very kind and given me things sent from his wife back home, still in Guatemala. Normally he would try to sell them and send the money back home to his family, so it means a lot. There’s nutty Darla who sings, pervy Phyllis, bad ass Judy (Judes, as I call her) who beats up her husband, spit-fire Rita, and crazy Julia. All of these people have come to mean so much to me and have helped me with their advice and their friendship. It’s hard to imagine working somewhere else without them, but I know that when I do I will take the things I’ve learned from them and still imagine their encouraging voices in my head.