December hurts the worst. Not sure why. But no one comes during the day.
Empty, hours at a time. ON A FRIDAY.
I get a bit down, rent is hard to make, I've hit my savings up...
Frap asked me to make him a pirate hat.
My bartender and manager, asked me to make him a pirate hat.
I grabbed a Chronicle from the stack and went at it with scissors and a stapler.
Seemed it wouldn't stay on his head... I pulled a few rubber bands out of the till and tied knots to keep them from slipping (out of the other knots and the staples)
He looked rather fine. He had a chin strap, and a huge FRILL of paper fringe I had curled on scissor edge.
The kitchen manager, in this time of no people and no business.... he saw the hat. "I WANT A HAT!" he said.
I took my scissors and my stapler and went to work.
His was a bit larger, so it fitted down around his ears with the rubber band straps, but on top were two tiny fans, EARS! He was the panda. He had the Panda hat.
Sabrina the prep cook and rock star and wonderful little young red headed lady all around... Well she did not want a hat. SHE wanted a headdress!
I folded the Chronicle long ways and went back to measure her head. Her head was larger than the Chronicle, and we should not be surprised. I attached rubber bands with careful staples. It fit. I built fans of Chronicle and jangley pieces of paper clip strings, swirls of ribboned Chronicle it dripped to one side, I liked it. She liked it.
She wore it all night. So did the Kitchen manager.
Panda Princess and Pirate.
You know I don't make a lot of money. I pretty much live at what America considers poverty.
Under 20 grand?
I have a roof. A warm bed. I eat better than most (shop local and cook for yourself)
And I work at a job that lets me make hats... when we are sad and bored.
Hope. Christmas was invented to get us through these dark months.
I've always called it my "Little White Box" I picture it a cube of white light in the back of my brain.
It tells the truth. I have never come to harm listening to it, no matter how bizarre. I have come to harm when I DID NOT listen to it.
As I left work tonight and climbed South onto IH-35 heading home... My 'little white box' told me to stop by Opal's.
This has happened before. Each time it has been a birthday or reunion of some kind.
Everyone (I still have much family there) is always amazed I knew to pop in.
I parked my car in the annex parking lot and made my way towards the lights. My old job of three years, the folks who kept me on through my accident... The folks I walked out on when it became more than I thought I should endure.
But still, family.
I saw Derrek was bartending, (that guy who still has my copy of DARK KNIGHT'?) I walked up to order a local beer... Tiffany, who hasn't worked there in as long or longer than I met me in the middle of the floor.
Have you heard the News?
I swallowed. I looked into her face. Seconds can last a thousand years.
GOOD NEWS? i asked weakly...
She shook her head and closed her eyes.
Chase is dead.
I almost vomited. That feeling when your heart hits the bottom of your stomach and everything in you wants to escape.
Chase, in his mid 20's. Chase, with that HORRID red bandanna he wore as a headband and nearly pulled off? The up and coming ROCK STAR i covered shifts for when he was on tour? That little boy who was always weaseling out of something with his charm and big brown eyes?
Chase. Who lasted longer there than most of us, because he was willing to put up with any job that would allow him time off to run after his dream...
He died in a car wreck tonight coming back from a gig in OK. He wasn't driving. His brother was notified, and notified... *head in hands* US.
It was a strange reunion. Many had been called, I had a new number... So my little white box notified me.
A dozen or more of us ex-Opal's and current sat and talked and cried and raised glasses.
I left after one beer, I knew I would be shit on the road. I'm still in shock.
It was only two miles, and I am home now. Glass of red wine, red eyes, still shocked. Confused.
Chase? OUR Chase?
He was a kid. He was so devoted to his art... *sigh* And he was a good waiter.
That is very nearly the highest complement I can pay a person. Good servers are rare. It has to come from the heart.
He was a good man. A talented man. He was a very very young man.
I am... this is..
I just don't know what to say. I just don't know what to say.
Tiffany looked around the table at us all and perhaps said it best:
He'd appreciate this.
I know why I do what I do. It is different from anything else one can do for a living. It causes almost war-time like bonds between folk.
It provides a living for people who are doing the work of their heart in a way nothing else could.