The business men, middle aged, greying, thinning, fattening, sit around their San Pellengrino with a slice of lime and nicoise salads, discussing interest and numbers. The mothers at the next table wonder if they know what it means to live. The mothers, late twenties/early thirties, new buggies blocking all ways to the table, sit around smirmoff and lemonade/pinot grigio, breastfeeding, and say things like c section and perspective, the elderly couple at the next table smile, knowing that they have a lot left to live. The elderly couple, serene and sweet, sit with a double gin and tonic and a large glass of Chianti, a newspaper crossword and a book, at peace at ease, they use no words, they need no words, the table of teenagers to their left wonder how much longer they have left to live. The teenagers sit around their margarita pizzas, rolling their eyes at each other and offering quips of sarcasm and materialistic comments, use words like adidas and iPod, the waitress walks by and wonders when they will learn to live.
The waitress holds in her hand a tray, fresh San Pellengrino precariously balanced on it. She takes it to the business men, they laugh ignoring her presence. The girl is a sell out. She has sold out on all morals, not permanently, just for this job. She offers the men a sweet seductive smile, an attempt to seem affable, a push for tips. She doesn't see it but her fake seductive smile actually distorts on the journey from her lips to the retina of the recipient, it is a smile tangled with a creep and a psycho, it is intense and OTT. They shoo her away, barely a thanks muttered. They assume she is a child who understands nothing about living, that she is unintelligent, that she knows nothing beyond Warrington. They judge her, she is angered, and in turn judges them. Self important ex-yuppies, all grown up and still stuck here. But she doesn't know them, just as they do not know her so she lets the judgment go. She approaches the table of teenagers who she secretly envies but in no way wants to be. Offers a lame attempt at rad spiel - an ironic attempt, nothing serious. If anything an attempt to make them laugh, a satirical dig at their own behavior - as if they don't take themselves seriously. It turns out they do take themselves seriously and she is met with blank faces and insulting whispers. She takes their desserts over, a candle sticking out of one, another fake smile and a rendition of happy birthday. They are not expecting it, she wishes to embarrass the young tykes, serves them right. But they dig it. They dig the waitress who's idiolect is a bizarre concoction of 60's slang, jive talk and the modern trend of uncertain utterances. She uses words such as "like" "dig" "hip" and "David Bowie."
A fly buzzing round the restaurant captures the attention of a business man. He shoos at it lazily. In a pathetic attempt to impress the aging yuppsters, the heroic waitress dashes across the restaurant menu held high over her head, ready to swat. Quickly before her eyes a red light flashes. Her brain cries quickly -NOOOOO. It has sold out on most of its morals but this one, this is an important one. She is in no way a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, only cares slightly about animal cruelty (is mostly just afraid of animals), yet this is a moral she has adopted believing that it will keep her out of a lot of trouble with the psyche, karma and ultimately the law. Do not kill anything that crunches. If you hear it crunch, squeek or scream when killing it, you have definitely done a bad thing. The menu high above her head, the fly trembling, 2000 images of it's life flashing before it's eyes, of dung and newspapers and trash and fresh food and flight and repeatedly flying into windows. The business men look at her with greed, lust and anticipation. Her eyes flick between them and the fly and then an image of her self reflected in a mirrored wall then back to the men. She timidly lowers the menu, the fly makes his escape, the men look at the slightly unhinged young woman.
"Erm, can I get you anything else?" She offers from a reddened face.
"Yeh actually, we ordered some garlic bread, where is that?" She looks at their empty plates
"Erm, sorry. I'll just get that for you."
"No no, forget it."
She approaches the chefs, the boys in the kitchen. The boys in the kitchen are convinced she writes erotic fiction in her spare time, initially as a wind up and, since she made no effort to deny this, it wasn't too far from the truth, it stuck, they dug it. She cringes at forgetting the garlic bread, they give her a new one. She takes it to the table.
"I said forget it!"
The elderly man beckons her over with a polite grin, orders two cognac and asks for the bill. She graciously pours them out and takes them over. The mothers, now tipsy, place their well fed new borns back into their prams and also ask for the bill. The final two tables also make hand gestures for the bill. The draw into the air using an invisible pen onto an invisible ticket which is held in the palm of their hands. She prints all four placing them onto shiny silver trays, reflecting a flawed, image of her face. She pauses. Her image is transfigured by the dents and scratches upon the tray, made by cash payments, coins and tips past.
She attempts small talk whilst taking card payments. Yes, one last push for loose change. A vulture. A begger. Not proud. She hates small talk so has resorted to just saying anything that is on her mind, something which has mixed reception, blank looks, silence, conversation, giggles.
"Say do you know the music video to David Bowie's Heroes?" The business men ignore her. The card payment goes through the machine, she feels like telling them. "I'm not stupid you know. I have a degree. Someone once actually said I am intelligent and I should..." But remains silent. No tip on card. She leaves an "Enjoy the rest of your day," at the table, a long with the reflective begging tray. When she started this job she didn't care about tips, just earning an honest wage. It turned out Waitressing is not a simple task and if it wasn't for the tips she would quit. But she was still honest. She was sure of that. She went the extra mile to earn that tip, and knew when one wasn't deserved. It was all false in one sense but if it made her work harder for the customers, then they were happy, the boss was happy, she got her tip, she is happy, who cares about authenticity. The kids leave the service charge. The new mums leave a pound. The elderly couple enjoy the forced conversation and place in her hand a fiver. She is warmed by their generosity and thanks them graciously, half ashamed, half enlightened - she isn't that shit after all. She clears tables ready for the next lot. The suits, the girls night out, the young families, the first dates, the last dates, she anticipates all walks of life. They are all living. None of them as she would as none of them are her. She wonders if they will ever know how living really is. She wonders if she will ever know how really living is. She waits for her life to begin. But it is already upon her. She panics.