Out of the Blue

It goes like this:

9:30pm Thursday night you get a call from the baker you used to work with at the craft school. She’s a craft-school ex-patriot like you are now, too, and she’s also a damn good businesswoman. With the recent legislation in downtown Spruce Pine, NC to allow beer, wine, and liquor within town limits, your friend has it in mind to start her own restaurant. She’s done this before. She’s got the place set up. And now she needs a waitress.

4pm on Friday and you are tying on your apron for the first time since November. Beer pours differently from the taps than espresso from the machine, but you’ll get the hang of it. You haven’t waitressed in a real restaurant since you were 18 years old. It doesn’t matter. You have about 20 minutes to look at the menu, figure out the register, and orient yourself to the bar before the doors are open and the first customer walks in.

Hi. How are you? Welcome to Pizzart. I’ll be your server this evening.

[Of course, like 80% of the customer base that evening, you know all of them by name. For instance, the first customers brought their daughter, whom I sing with at Montessori. The father is a writer and applied for the same big-time NC Arts Council grant that I did…in the same category.]

By Saturday night you’ve worked 14 hours and earned $270 in tips—more money than you’ve seen in god-knows-how-long. You think: Kenia Fjords, Alaska, yeah, that’s it—a day ferry out into the North Pacific to see marine life you’ve never seen in your life and may never get to see again. You think: Or, teeth cleaning and haircut before officiating your friend’s wedding? Keep this up and you can do both.

It’s a temporary gig. Just Fridays and Saturdays for the month of July. Going to Alaska kills the chance of keeping this as a job but you don’t care. You don’t want it to last that long anyway. For now, it’s like some golden nugget someone has handed you after who-knows-how-long of biting your nails and counting your pennies.

July will be earn money month. August will be Alaska month. September will be regional rockstar month (2 book signings, 2 presentations, an exhibition, and a residency). October is, obviously, Andrew Bird month. Is it me or is time flying by?

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