Tipping (Isn’t a City in China)

Allan soured his face as I explained his duties as the bus driver for today: keep your phone on. Answer the calls. Make sure you’re constantly looping back here from LAX — don’t just stay at the airport. He had this “I-can’t-believe-my-lot-in-life-is-driving-a-bus” expression on his face. The sentiment seeped into his posture, and into his surly one-word responses to my instructions. He maintained that presence the entire day, up till the moment I signed his parents, indicating services rendered, and that he completed his duties. After I shook his hand, he paused, then said, “Handshakes and thank you’s are nice,
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Restaurant Work in Los Angeles

“Sounds like a no-brainer,” Teddy said. He reclined deeper into the sofa, sunlight splashing off the cigarette drooped from his fingertips. “What did you come out to Los Angeles for? You didn’t come out to serve, or to learn more about the restaurant business. You came to write. So take whichever job will help you do that.” He took a drag. Stared out across Culver City rooftops. “Wish someone told me that, when I was in New York. So I kept acting, instead of wasting two years bartending.” The choices? A modern, fine-dining Japanese restaurant. Or a local, burn-n’-turn Thai
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Sidebar: My Self-Deception

Sidebar: My Path Don’t remember who said it, but there’s something about the quote, paraphrased below, that sticks like beach tar to fleshy foot: “Self deception is such an insidious thing; not only are you lying to yourself, but then the lie covers its own tracks, so you never realize it existed to begin with.” The words ring in my ears, like the shrill WHIRL WHIRL of a distant police car, or the smoke alarm cutting through a dream, as I decide between the Plunge or a Toe in the Water. Reason tells me the latter. Lay the foundation, build
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Free

Most people jump at the opportunity of “free.” At the end of our serving shift, I told the other server our tips were a dollar over, and I wanted her to have it. She tried shrugging it off. She continued pushing the vacuum cleaner over the tan carpet. “Don’t worry about it,” she said. I insisted. I told her I left it in my pocket and almost forgot it. If she didn’t take it, the guilt would eat me. She thought about it for a millisecond. “Okay. I’ll take it. I’m poor,” she said with a short laugh, then, just
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Service

“It’s not just about making tips,” Frank said. He’s always said it. “Don’t look at your job like that. Otherwise, you start thinking, ‘I’ll treat these people sitting over here better than those people over there because I think they’ll tip me better.’ You might know they won’t leave you a good tip. You might remember the last time they came in, how nice you were to them and how the man thanked you and shook your hand on the way out, but when you counted the cash on the table, you found they only tipped you 13%. Some people
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Pride

He wanted to say something. I could feel it in the air – that tension tingling in the space between us. I put down my tray. He waited. I took off the three tall soda glasses, and fit them snugly into one hand. My other hand reached for the soda gun. My thumb fired off two “D’s” and one “P.” Besides the fizzle and pop of carbonation striking soda mix, it was quiet. He waited. I handed my patrons their respective refills. When I returned to the bar, I put him out of his misery. What Martin? I asked him.
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