I started another restaurant job yesterday.
The kid who trained me my first day introduced me as the guy who was voted most likely to succeed for his high school yearbook. He grinned and chortled like a tranquilized banshee immediately after divulging that information then proceeded to tell me how important it was to drink a lot of water throughout the shift and make sure to keep moving because the owner watches us on security cameras and he may or may not have a screw loose. I nodded and suppressed the urge to question the logic behind any of what he’s told me.
I was trying to get on the floor as fast as I could, so I decide to suck up the fact that I’ll be on my feet 11 hours and stay on to train for the dinner shift. Murphy, my trainer for lunch, is on a double and he comes up to me around three thirty and goes, “so, Krueger, you’re staying on?”
“Yeah,” I says back. He’s supposedly been working there eight odd years off and on, but I get a strange feeling about the guy like they been keeping him around because he’s got something on the family and he’d squeal on them if he ever got told to kick rocks. Sure, I’ve been there only a few hours, but that’s what I gather. “Are you going to insist on calling me Krueger from here on out?” I didn’t pick my birth name, Francis, but I did forget to clip my fingernails that morning, I’ll own that.
Murphy grins and nods, each time his head tilts down his chins multiplying.
“Thought so,” I said. I took a bite of the chowder that’s been offered me as a free lunch.
“You’ve got Ma McCray training you tonight, brother,” he whispers. “Be careful with how much you tell her about your personal life and do not tell her where you live. Shoot her an answer that’s at least 5 miles away when she asks, which she’s bound to.”
“No shit, man.” Murphy tucked his fingers behind his ear and bounced his glasses off his nose, frantically trying to move his eyebrows in synch with the frames. “She’d like to think she’s this hot cougar. She’ll most likely try to give you a ride home. No matter what, you are all set. They make her train since they think she’s got it together. In reality, though, she’s batshit. One time she showed up to work wearing a macaroni necklace her kid made her in art class back in ’91. We didn’t mention it until her third table, mostly because we thought she’d figure it out herself. She had no idea. Just kind of laughed it off.”
I went to get an ice water. Got to hydrate. I wondered if the rest of the staff here is like Murphy and McCray. Murphy, Mr. Most Likely to Succeed. I wondered about that. Success. Training waiters, making tips.
I wonder about that, success.