“Jesse, Jesse, come here dear.”
Mr. H is back and hasn’t visited in a month. Of course, he made his reservation half an hour beforehand, and expects his favorite table.
Before his arrival, the hostess comes to inform me that there is no way Mr. H can possibly have his favorite table. It’s been reserved for a party of five all night, and Mr. H is only a party of three. We’re packed and there’s nowhere else the larger party can sit.
Of course, I already know all of this. I’ve got the floorplan and reservation books pulled up on my phone, I saw Mr. H’s reservation appear in real time, and I’m already figuring out a game plan.
“Tell Francisco he’s gotta drop the check on table 70,” I tell the hostess. “Put a “reserve” sign on 71. When 70 gets up, I’m gonna turn the tables sideways so they’re longer. Party of five sits there. Mr. H gets his table. We just need 70 to go.“
I pull Lucas, the busser, aside. “As soon as the butts are out of seats on 70, I’ll meet you over there with a tray. I bus, you wash, we turn the tables sideways. Capiche?”
The plan works.
“Jesse, Jesse, come here dear,” Mr. H. is seated and ready for “the routine.” I wipe my sweaty brow with my sleeve and march over for my line:
“Well, hello, long time no see!” I sing.
“Ugh, I know! I was in Florida all last week, and then Toronto for a conference before that! I’m actually only here a few days but I just HAD to show these two my favorite spot!” He introduces me to his guests and I coo a “welcome” as I shake each of their hands.
“And Jesse…just…what is new about your hair. It looks amazing!”
There is nothing new about my hair. There’s never anything new about my hair unless the color has changed, and it hasn’t. But I’ve got an answer thought up already because he says this every time.
“Ya know, I’ve been wearing the bangs pulled all the way back and I usually have them in front, swept to the side! I’m impressed you even noticed!”
“Well you’re looking beautiful as always!”
He winks. I curtsy in my mind.
Our dialogue complete, I send three flutes of Prosecco and then head on to fix the restroom door, which, I’m told, has been locked from the inside again with no one there.
At this time last year, this was my life.
I’ve been putting off writing a lot this week. I wanted to write something funny and quirky and weird, but I barely had the inspiration to write at all, let alone write something that wasn’t totally self involved and self-pitying.
So buckle up.
The week started off with a bit of a disappointment. A disappointment SO silly that is doesn’t even warrant explanation. But what it did was it opened my eyes to how much I truly am struggling right now.
I’m proud of myself for how I’m getting through. On good days, I’ve been challenging myself to cook things, and work out more, and keep up chores on a “real adult” schedule. I keep my eyes open for job opportunities that might fit the bill…I look up grad schools and programs that might interest me…I write. I make sure I get dressed each day and leave the apartment even if it’s just to pick up a coffee or a diet coke.
But anyway, I didn’t realize how much I was slipping until this minor disappointment occurred and I was faced with the reality of more status quo. More trying to wake up early, realizing there’s not much to wake up early for and then going back to sleep for two hours. More willing myself to put on a face and do my hair instead of hiding it in a scarf or tying it in a sloppy knot. More trips to department stores to keep me from binge watching another Hulu series, where I end up spending money I ought to be saving.
And I just got so, so sad. It’s pathetic right? And then the feeling of being pathetic just makes me angry with myself…like just FIX yourself, Jesse. You have it so much better than SO many people right now. You have a place to live, and food, and people who love you and will help you. You’ve had ZERO issues with unemployment, and you are getting by just fine.
But at the end of the day, I feel dread that another day is coming where I will likely accomplish nothing. And more and more lately, I don’t try to accomplish much. I don’t look for jobs as much because they don’t pay enough and I’m better off finishing unemployment benefits. Or the careers I’d be interested in require more education.
So I look into more education, but it’s costly, and I likely wouldn’t be able to afford it without a job. And then I’m back at jobs.
And then I think, okay, suppose you did figure out how to pay for a masters or a new certification…and then you hated it, and found that you’d just picked something to pick something…because really, you were already doing something that you kinda liked before…before you were ripped out of your former life by a pandemic.
And then I’m angry. Angry that my life got uprooted. Angry that it got uprooted and turned upside down for the SECOND TIME in my life, this time by a disease that I don’t even have but MIGHT get!
In the times of “Mr. H and his favorite table” I was working a full time job as an events coordinator, and ALSO covering two shifts a week as a maitre d’ at a stunning Upper East Side restaurant where I left each shift with at least sixty bucks in cash (in addition to my FULL hourly wage–not a tipped hourly wage).
And yeah, I did it because it felt great to have money for really the first time in my life. But I also did it because I liked being busy. I liked to work. I liked the buzz of NYC hospitality, and I loved the people I worked with because we were all working so f**king hard, together.
I feel like a hostage of this pandemic. So many things hold me back from taking steps forward, and when I think of going back to work, not only do I feel angry that it can’t be what it was in “Mr. H” days, but I feel scared.
Scared of getting Covid19 and spreading it to my loved ones…scared of it further destroying my kidneys.
Scared because do I even remember how to work? How to live on a schedule? How to be responsible for things?
And then I’m like “let’s be honest, Jess. What are the chances you’re NOT selling “Holiday Pine” scented candles at White Barn come Christmas time?“
And then I cry.
This is the daily routine. And it usually ends with, “why don’t I just binge watch something to calm my nerves.”
Thus a cycle.
I miss Mr. H and his stupid table.