Episode #56: Labor Day Reading from The Thirteenth Hour
This week, in honor of Labor Day in the USA, I’m reading a few excerpts from The Thirteenth Hour that go out to all those unsung folks doing jobs that keep our world running smoothly, often behind the scenes. For example, Aurora here is a dishwasher, and how often do they get their due?
That evening, I met Aurora in town at the pub for a meal before our work shifts started. She received a discount on food there and could bring a guest for free, so it worked out better than the soldiers’ dining hall in the castle, which offered no discounts, absolutely no guests, and was awful to boot. When we sat down at a booth, I discovered the book in my back pocket.
“Whatcha got there?” She looked the little book over. “Oh, knitting. Interesting. Do you know, I learned how once, at the orphanage, but I never really got the hang of it. Hmm, let’s see if I remember any of this stuff,” she said as she flipped through the manual…
…“Nope, don’t remember a thing about knitting, unfortunately,” said Aurora, knocking me out of my reverie.
Just then, a waitress with a sour expression on her face brought over two bowls of stew, two glasses of water, and a hunk of bread. Aurora invited her to sit down with us while we ate, and the woman’s annoyed expression brightened for a moment as she welcomed the opportunity to avoid work for a few more minutes. She poured herself a pint of ale from the tap behind her and collapsed heavily onto the booth next to Aurora. Aurora introduced me to the waitress, who said, “Oh, so you’re Logan. Aurora mentioned someone like you.” Her eyes came to rest on the book on knitting.
“You were reading this?”
Aurora smiled and nodded.
“What the hell for? You work for a living now, why do you want to go back to this garbage? They got stores for this, you know.” I noticed that the waitress had repositioned herself towards Aurora in the manner that women did when they wanted to create a third wheel.
“Oh … well, sure. I just thought it was, well, interesting.”
“Ha! That’s gotta be the overstatement of the year. More like the most uninteresting thing ever. What the hell’s it good for?”
“Well … you’ll always be able to make clothes if you can knit,” I reasoned.
As the waitress shifted back to look at me, her eyes narrowed to slits. They said, “I didn’t ask you.” But her mouth said, “You know, I once had a husband who said that to me, and look where it got him. Humph.” She gave Aurora a stern, teacherly kind of look as she got up to go. “Get rid of this guy now,” it seemed to say.
Aurora looked embarrassed but shrugged it off. “Sorry, she’s like that to everyone at first.”
Just then, a door at the back of the room swung open and a deep voice yelled, “Aurora, where the hell are you? We’re opening in five minutes! Look at all these dishes! There’s no end to these …” the yelling trailed away as the door swung shut.
“Uggh, I guess I gotta go, Logan. Sorry,” she tossed her hands up a little as she stood and dropped her napkin on the table.
“Ah, it’s alright, Aurora. Tomorrow, at the gym, then?”
“Sure, I …”
“Aurora, did you hear me, dammit! Get your ass in here!” yelled the voice from the back again.
Aurora rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute!” she yelled over her back. I helped her gather the dirty dishes.
“Thanks, I got it.”
“Now, dammit! Do I have to come out there?”
“Jeeze, go on before that guy busts a vein or something,” I said. She kissed me quickly then ran through the swinging back door. In her hurry, she forgot one of the bowls, which I scooped up and placed on a tray of other dirty dishes. The waitress that had sat with us happened to look over and gave me a dirty look as I walked out.
“No tip again,” she muttered. “Bastard.”
I heard her but did not understand. Since I had never been able to afford restaurants before, I was still pretty new to eating in one; perhaps there was some unspoken custom I was not aware of, probably involving money or work – the things adults typically complained of – and my general ignorance about both was probably what had incurred the waitress’ wrath to begin with.
You can hear more excerpts on the show. Enjoy your day of rest, and know that if you have one of those essential buy thankless jobs, whether it pays or not – stay-at-home parents, take note – there people out there who are grateful. =)
As always, thanks for listening!