Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Working Nightshift

Today, while reading other blogs, in reading the post my blogger buddy, Minnesota Blue, had done about her daughters along the theme of "sounding like our mother," it brought to mind a story about my older daughter and myself.

Back in 1984, when older daughter was a junior in high school, she got a job working weekends as a waitress at the same truckstop where I was employed full-time. I warned her on numerous occasions prior to her starting there that the job often was hectic, also stress-filled with dealing with customers -who can be nice as pie sometimes, some of them, and others who can be like meeting the devil himself. I warned her too she would have to deal with co-workers, the owners of the establishment, as well as the customers and walk a fine line at times. Do the impossible too and keep your mouth shut- something that's not an easy task for me or for her.

She survived the year till she graduated and a week or two after graduation, the boss (owner) approached me asking if I thought my daughter would be interested in working there full-time as there was an opening on the midnight (graveyard) shift. I told the boss that since the kid had no other offers, needed a full-time job, I was fairly certain she would take the job. I told the daughter about it and she agreed.

I tried my best to tell her about certain things on midnight shift that differed from the other two shifts - some tasks that had to be done, like stocking items for the incoming shift, etc. But mainly, I tried to indoctrinate her to some of the various "personalities" she would no doubt encounter between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., five days a week. After all, I had worked the graveyard shift myself for over three years and had come to know - and in many cases, understand, yes even love, some of the characters who came in regularly during those hours.

Her first night on midnight shift came and the following morning, she arrived home tired, spent and yes, a bit angry too. She threw her stuff on the dining room table and announced to me, "YOU might like Ed Sandie, but I DON'T!"

Hearing that struck fear in my heart because this guy, a driver for a now defunct trucking company (Consolidated Freightways or CF) was a regular visitor on the midnight shift. And all I could think of was if she couldn't adapt and accept Ed and his ways, her days on that shift were going to be long, hard and very upsetting. Ed was, as one of my other driver friends explained it to me, "A ball-buster." He liked to stir the pot, tease, rile people - do whatever he could in other words. But you had to understand also he didn't usually mean anything bad by his actions - he just liked to pick on people. I tried to explain this to her, telling her what you have to do to deal with Eddie is, when you see him coming, you start thinking of something to use to harass or pick on him first. That way, you set him a bit off-balance and you could then be back in control of the situation - whatever it might be.

What exactly had happened though to create this reaction in her about Eddie though? I asked her to tell me about it and here's her story.

Seems she was clearing a table - leaning over, stacking dirty dishes into the bus cart and then, brushing crumbs and lint off the table cloth to get it reset for the next customer when Eddie came in that morning.

Now, she had never seen him, never met him before so she didn't recognize him. He had heard via the truckers' grapevine though that my daughter was going to be starting fulltime on midnight shift, so when he walked in and saw her, he knew immediately she was my daughter and Eddie, being Eddie, immediately started in on her, taunting her.

He walked up behind her, leaned over and in a low voice told her "You look like your mother, you walk like your mother, you talk like your mother and you act like your mother!"

She was incensed at this comment because, after all, she didn't really want the customers to know that she even knew me, much less that we were that closely related.

But, after our little discussion, my explanation of what Eddie is like to deal with, etc., she vowed to try Mom's tactics in dealing with him.

A couple weeks later, one evening at work - I was on the 3 to 11 shift then - a Roadway driver from Akron came in, sat in my section and as I started to wait on him he remarked to me that he'd been in the night before on the graveyard shift and that my daughter had been his waitress.

I told him then that he'd best not let on to her that he knew she's my daughter and of course, he wanted to know why. So, I had related to him then the story of Eddie and my daughter's first meeting.

After hearing that, this Big R driver said to me, "Well, she does kind of walk like you, she does sort of act like you and look like you and yes, even at times, talk like you too, but there's one very big difference there you know."

And I asked him what that might be.

"She's much more polite than you!"

To which I retorted, "You don't know what it's like to live with that little b***h!" He cracked up - knowing how I meant that because I knew he had seven children of his own and how they act in public compared to how they are at home often are not exactly the same thing!

But one thing I have to say here as I end this little tale, when my daughter quit working at that restaurant three years later, I bet you know too which driver, which customer, was her absolute favorite to wait on, don't you?

Yep - it was good old Ed Sandie! She came to know and understand him - and yes, love him almost like a father and he felt the same about her too! A couple years later when I was working at another establishment, once in a blue moon, Eddie would stop in there just to have a meal and visit and when I saw him come in, I would call my daughter, who then lived nearby that place, and if she wasn't busy, she'd come over and sit and visit with him then too.

Both of them really appreciated that opportunity to come together again, catch up on things, enjoy some good laughs too, for sure.

Just another little story I remembered from my days of waiting tables, contending with tourists, locals, drunks and lots and lots of truck drivers.


... Paige said...

Waiting tables and the working with the public, what a hard job. You must be a saint!
Oh BTW love the photos of days gone by.

Gene Bach said...

Way cool story Jeni. I would much rather deal with people in person than over the computer...much easier to read. Sounds like your daughter came out much better for her effort too.

masgblog said...

Hi Jeni...for what it's worth, I think the problem is dialup. I never have box loading problems on high speed.

Minnesotablue said...

Jeni: That's a great story. I remember working with one of my daughters for a short time and was often critized for being to hard on her. Guess I was cause I wanted everyone to know how great she was. And she was.

david mcmahon said...

Just brilliant, Jeni, on so, so many levels.

Travis said...

Now this is interesting. My dad likes to chat up the wait staff, and some of them really don't know how to deal with it. He doesn't really stir things up, but I guess some people are on edge to begin with.

Vic, the Cariboo Ponderer said...

Another neat family tale. Don't know why she didn't want to look like you, you look fine to me.

SnoopMurph said...

Love the story. You do have some great stories to tell and I love the ending.

Hope all is well for you.

Debo Blue said...

Girl, I thought you were gonna tell Ed had made some obscene comment to your daughter. I was all ready to hear the sailor-worthy words that had spewed from her mouth (didn't you say she was like you?) Debo innocently asks:-)

Great story:-)

lime said...

great story jeni. i grew up in a family of eds so i know what you speak of. glad he and your daughter could make peace and enjoy such a fun relationship.

Middle Ditch said...

This made me think back to the day that we went to the first parents evening of my daughter's school. We were absolutely convinced that the teacher talked about a different girl.

magnetbabe said...

LOL that story was hilarious! I think it's only as we grow up that we can recognize (and be okay with) being just like our moms.

Have you see the movie Waitress? It's pretty funny and I think you would relate to the restaurant scenes.

kelly ann said...

If you can deal with truck drivers you can deal with anything that comes your way. What a good story.