Working at a Restaurant
From the very first day of my job, I knew I had stumbled across something inexpressible in words. It was an almost spiritual transcendence, having a job and being part of something that lifted me to a higher plane. I was fortunate enough to find myself in the employ of Cavalierdi’s restaurant in the socially envious position of pot washer. Four nights after school, and Saturday nights, I was the head pot washer. But, being the envy of my high school buddies was short lived, when I discovered that the “head pot washer” wasn’t really in charge of anything other than some sudsy water, and that it involved way more than merely washing pots. I was also permitted, implored even, to use my hands to scrape and clean the organic food remnants, and other indefinable residues left on the plates by our satisfied customers. So it was that this head pot washer was cleaning everything that anyone found objectionable in the restaurant. Poised at the suds busting helm, I decided that I was going to be the best pot washer they ever had.
On this particular night I felt compelled to let everyone in the kitchen know my lofty intentions of becoming a black belt in the art of pot and pan scrubbery. When I told the chef, the absolute ruler of the kitchen, I was certain he would beam with pride. I really looked up to the chef, even though he was so old. Man that dude must have been in his 60’s. I believe he always worked hard and the years had been kind to him, although not without consequence. Deep furrows stretched into spaghetti lines across his face, and he always seemed to be deep in thought. Quite fit for an older guy, and he was deceptively strong. Crazy coot could throw 50 pound bags of potatoes halfway across the kitchen with ease. He always wore a dirty and tattered black bandana which concealed the badly receding headline and his eyebrows sported the thickest hair he had. Like caterpillars on steroids those eerie brows housed some very dark and serious eyes. Eyes that narrowed instantly at the first sign of anger. Like holy shit man it wasn’t only the eyes, but that bulging vein that stood out and threatened you personally. I prayed that wasn’t the face that was building up inside his maniacal mind. Not siree, not the anger I was about to get a full emasculating dose of. He looked me directly in the eyes, and with his most compassionate paternal demeanor, his eyes teared up, and he laughed uncontrollably. A laugh that came all the way from the balls of his feet. In between his deafening guffaws the chef attempted to tell his sous chef Andre what my intentions were, and that was met with a roar of laughter that could cause a soufflé to fall. Regardless of their snickering daggers of contemptuous
The Bamboo Blaster
Patrick was a good friend. If Ken and I weren’t best friends, then Patrick and me would have been. We knew each other since kindergarten and I don’t think we ever had a fight once. Patrick was so mellow and just a real nice guy. His hair was intensely curly and so long it stuck out across his shoulders when it wasn’t tied back. He was very perceptive and liked smoking pot even more than I did. He had an older brother who was a true hippie. He had burned his draft card and evaded the draft by moving to Canada. Before he left he gave Patrick the legendary bamboo pipe he had bought while on a trip to San Francisco. While visiting Haight Asbury Randy had come across a store that specialized in unusual pipes. He told us of chillums, water pipes, hookahs, and his pride and joy, the bamboo carburetor. It was six foot long, and hollow with a pipe bowl at one end. The person taking the hit held the other end and sucked hard, waiting patiently. The first sucking resulted in nothing, so the second sucking was the key. After catching your breath the sucking continued. While sucking a friend held the bowl end with a hand over the open end of the bamboo pole. Keeping a match lit on the pot in the bowl he allows the length of the pole to fill up with pot smoke and once full, he removes the hand that’s over the open end. The entire contents of the pole, all six foot of that beautiful enlightening smoke rushed out in less than a second as it shoots through like a carburetor. It fills your lungs with more smoke than you could possibly hold and you put your hand over your mouth and nose and try to keep it in. Smoke begins escaping out of the nose and mouth and trickles through the fingers, and you feel like its also coming out your eyeballs and ears as well. You can hold the smoke for about 10 seconds (I think the record is 14 seconds) until your lungs implode and a cloud of cannabis nimbus smoke surrounds your head as you cough for the next 10 minutes and anyone else around laughs and waits their turn. It is one of the most intense rushes ever.
Patrick had snuck the bamboo out to the backyard and filled up the bowl. “C’mon JT, I gotta get this back inside quick. We can take one toke each.” We ravaged the pot in seconds, Patrick put away his pipe and we just hung out and talked. I relayed all of the days events as Patrick laughed his ass off. “Oh man, you have no idea how much I needed that Pat. I can never thank you enough.” Patrick stared at me with a fixed stare and looked me in the eye when he said, “You can give me back the Tonka truck you stole from me back in grade school.” I stared uneasy for a half a minute until Patrick could no longer hide his goof on me. I laughed so hard my check muscles began shaking. I swear we must have laughed for an hour just talking about the old days. Even that seemed ironic, not out of high school and already talking about the old days. Oh well, time to join the real world and head off to work.
I stalled at work and got home a bit later than usual in the hopes of avoiding contact with the master of the house. Mom was up waiting for me and told me I had a meeting tomorrow with her and my guidance councilor. Dad got home late and was asleep so I would have to wait until tomorrow to find out what sort of wrath he would be imparting on my life. So far, no harm no foul. Lets hope this keeps up.