Hustling

4 05 2008

Hustling can take many forms. Tonight’s was monetary. Time spent waiting on tables for a few bucks. Pay a bill. It is all a reminder of the time spent last year not hustling. Having forgotten how to hustle.

Tonight’s hustle was as a guest star, called in to sub for a regular. This hustling is somewhat carefree. Were I to do it everyday, it might be a lot more stressful. Counting tip percentages as a barometer of feeding the children. When it is infrequent, it is fun, or painless, or simply good work done reasonably well for little time. And it is a bill paid.

The fun part of seeing the restaurant as a guest star is to take in both the customers and the kitchen, the staff and the management, from the perspective as a guest. Don’t have to contemplate long-term strategies of survival with respect to personalities. Just watching. And the differences and tensions between the two sides of the doors are fascinating to experience. Cooking can be noble, but mostly it is a job that energetic and young people scrape by in the making and serving so the public, or those that like the cuisine and can afford it, are pleased with their outcomes. When it is done well — drinks and food served quickly and correctly, properly prepared, and tasty — there is a balance between the two that makes the other part — did they eat enough and did they tip enough — fall into place, most of the time.

It is the tension that made me catch my breath and drop a tear in Ratatouille when Ego tastes Remy’s creation and is whisked away to the place only taste memory can take you.  Brad Bird’s film captured it perfectly, a sensuous moment that just happened to be the climax.

Could I hustle everyday, in the same place at the same rate at this age.  No.  But in the category of “every little bit helps”, it’s something.

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