“Get this,” I tell her. “Just as I’m starting to like this dishwashing gig — I mean come on, I’ve lost five pounds – the manager promotes us to waitresses.”
“That’s great,” said Alicia. “Think of the tips. Hey, if they’re hiring maybe I’ll apply. I’ve had enough with fixing heating vents and unplugging sinks.”
“You’d be a natural with all your waitressing experience,” I tell her, remembering her diner stories from high school.
“Yeah. And believe me, anything would be better than this janitor work.”
Alicia applied that afternoon and nailed a waitress job with us. Before long the three us donned the Brassier uniform — beige cotton dresses and brown aprons — and stood at attention in our one-day training class.
# # #
“Do you have a final wish?” Sean asks with a smile as he hoists the two poles that will guide the stretcher.
I laugh out loud, but to myself I think, “Please Lord, just get me down this mountain safely.”
With this vacation, Alicia and I are keeping a promise we made one night years ago while celebrating our birthdays together — hers is March 17 and mine is March 26. We’d been reminiscing about our post-college Keystone adventure as we had so many times before.
“You know,” she said. “We ought to promise each other that no matter where we are in life, single, married, divorced, no matter how many kids we have, no matter where we live, that we spend our 50th birthdays at Keystone.”
I raised my glass.
“And this time, not in employee housing. We’ll do it up right! “
We reminded each other of that promise throughout the years.
By the time our 50th rolled around, she was married and the mother of four boys, living in Chicago’s western suburbs and working as high-level financial executive at large investment firm in downtown. I was also married and the mother of two boys, living in the Northwest suburbs, and retired from a 25-years career in public relations after a breast cancer diagnosis and successful treatment.
We started planning the trip in our 49th year. We’d take our whole families, ride Amtrak just like our first excursion, but we’d purchase sleeping berths this time for the kids’ enjoyment and our peace of mind.
Our Rocky Mountain adventure was splendid until now. Was I going to ruin this carefully planned trip with an injury caused by my own stupidity?
I close my eyes.
“I’m ready Sean. Let’s do it.”
# # #
“How ya’ll doin’ on this fine morning,” said LeeAnn to her eight-top table of parents and kids. “I bet ya’ll could use some blueberry pancakes this morning to keep you going if you’re gonna hike up that mountain,” she said with a laugh.
Wait a minute. This was one of the evil Southern belles Sheila warned me about? A short, cute blonde, she’d sashay out of the kitchen with an overhead tray of entrees, sides and drinks and engage in pleasant conversation while accurately matching each plate to its owner. She couldn’t be sweeter, I thought.
That is, until she stood by my side at the chef’s counter a few minutes later.
“I want those damn pancakes on a plate right now Sam,” she barked with no trace of a Southern accent, as she edged me out with her elbow.
“Excuse me, he’s working on my order right now?” I said as I moved back into my place.
“Your order? Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Mary Ann. I just started today. And who do you think you are?”
LeeAnn looked at Sam and they broke into laughter.
“You better understand how things work around here, girl. It doesn’t matter when I come in. The chefs take care of me first because I take care of them.”
She winked at Sam.
“You got it?”
“Yeah, I get it.” I said.
Maybe I should have studied that career services binder a little harder. This was not going to be an easy job, after all.
# # #