The band: Alabama Shakes
The song: “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Alabama Shakes is a band that I first listened to back in 2011. I was sitting on the living room floor at a friend’s party when Brittany Howard came on the television set. She sang “Hold On” and I remember feeling grateful. Grateful that somebody was talking about the struggle that comes from holding on to a dream. Today, the band’s lyrics continue to inspire me.
I’m just your local part-time server who is familiar with having a bad day at work. It’s the kind where the restaurant is full and only three servers are working the floor. Every guest wants, of course, their refill of coffee as soon as I am delivering another one’s eggs. I might be a fairy but there isn’t a wand powerful enough to make everyone happy.
“Excuse me, have you been helped yet?” I said to a table of four. They had been sitting in the corner of my eye for the past couple of minutes.
“No,” They said. I smiled and apologized before taking their orders. Even though it wasn’t a table in my section, I understood how it could have been overlooked. Attention is like a Sticky Toy Hand that a server throws in every direction during a Rush. Sometimes it pulls away too quickly because someone is shouting for more free bread.
Back in the kitchen I stood by the computer. On it I saw all the tables that were waiting to be delivered. Four red squares stared into the back of my head. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to deliver them all and hand out checks to the other tables in a timely fashion. My coworkers were just as busy as I was.
“Your food is up,” my coworker said from behind me. I felt my heart speed past the adrenaline rush and straight into panic mode.
“Can you help me, please,” I said. Drops of sweat were trickling down my backside. My coworker agreed while I handed out the last of my checks. As I headed back into the kitchen I remember feeling relief, like it was all going to be okay.
“There should be ten orders there,” I pointed out to my coworker, as soon I was back in the kitchen. They nodded just as another order popped up in the window. I told them to go on ahead while I plated this one. It was for the table of four that I picked up.
I counted, “One. Two. Three…” There were only three orders. I had forgotten to punch in the last one. I felt my arm wrap itself around my waist. My stomach turned like a waffle in its iron. I didn’t know what to do. It would take another five minutes to cook their meal. I checked the time-ticket and saw that it was already twenty-minutes old.
“I’m sorry. That was my fault,” I said to them. “It’ll be right out.”
The boy sighed. “We’ve all been coming here a long time and this is the worst service ever.” The three girls around him waited for me to respond. A cold wind blew through my open lips. I wanted to tell him that I had five other tables and one of them had ten people. I could have easily pointed this out to him except I couldn’t. My job is to serve him his food.
“I’m sorry.” I said again and made my way to the ten top behind us.
“How is everything?”I said. A woman in the corner waved me over.
“There wasn’t any bacon in my wrap,” She said. I apologized before walking to my manager’s office. I explained to them the situations at hand.
“I made her wrap and there was bacon in it.” They said. I rolled my hands into fists. I knew then that it wouldn’t make a difference what I had done. Each table was going to complain about something. Still, I had to deliver their checks with a smile. My manager walked out to check on each person before discounting their meals.
I followed him until suddenly “Don’t Wanna Fight” came on the radio. Brittany Howard’s wheeze perfectly described the frustration I felt. There was no explanation that I could have given to either person, because I wasn’t allowed to speak. I had to lay down my pride along with the check.
That’s exactly what I did, but at least I had Howard’s words in the background.