The WaitressA Poem by Dennis Sholler
I work in a restaurant.
I wait tables.
It doesn’t pay enough,
But it pays, and it keeps dinner on the table
Most of the time.
I can’t remember a time when
I never had to worry.
I mean, there was a time when my husband made a living,
At least enough to support our children.
But that was once.
Lately, he really only lives to support himself,
And the only thing that he continues to feed
Is his addiction.
There’s something about playing second-best
To a pill-pushing psychiatrist that keeps you uneasy,
So I set him free, let the love of my life
Run off with his bride to be,
To live under the influence of narcotics
‘Til death do them part.
I like to look at it this way:
That’s one less child to support.
So here I am at 4:45 every morning,
Drowning myself in coffee,
Filling the air of my trailer with cigarette smoke.
I’ve never been late to work a day in my life,
But I still see the kids off to school every morning.
I kiss their cheeks as we exchange “I love you.”
I still find trouble in believing them.
It’s difficult to imagine another person loving you
when you can't find reasons to love yourself.
There’s little to look forward to
In my morning commute to the island.
But I do find pleasure in the sight of the bay
From the foot of the bridge
The mist of the morning air
Lightens the May haze and
Dispels the anxiety of my heavy mind.
But let’s face it:
And while I spend my week
Appeasing ornery elderly couples and
Picking up dirtied plates of soggy French toast
From tables covered in ripped linen cloths,
I’m always overwhelmed by the sight of
A five-dollar bill.
There’s something about tattered one-dollar bills
And the obvious pocket change that
Questions why this 43-year-old woman works
A summer job across four seasons.
I ask myself the same questions.
For once, I wish that someone would
Leave me with something other than stray coins,
Something useful written on a used napkin
Or the business card of a failing carpenter
Assuring me that
“You could do better, Donna,
You don’t deserve to be broken down like this.”
You see, this is the kind of advice that I would take to heart,
Because when I crumple it in my hand and toss it to the side,
I find comfort in knowing that you’re looking out of me;
There is nothing more gratifying than absorbing
The respect that I deserve because
I don’t deserve to fight my battles in bills
Or to be a war with my wages.
And while my trailer park home
Doesn’t amount to the three-floored glory
Of your Margate mansion,
I have stories of my own,
The type of s**t that’ll make you
March back through that restaurant door
And slap that crisp five-dollar bill
Right into my hand.
And it will mean nothing.
I don’t want your sympathy cards.
I don’t need your pity pennies.
Regardless of how you see me,
I will be on time to pour your coffee
Every morning of
Every day of
For the simple satisfaction
Of having you watch me do it.
Whether you stiff me or not,
I will not waver.
I’m just trying to prove to you
That there’s no reason that
I should be doing this.
So I’m doing it.
© 2012 Dennis Sholler
Shelved in 2 LibrariesAdded on March 26, 2012
Last Updated on March 26, 2012
New Brunswick , NJ
AboutI am a 19-year-old college student at Rutgers University. more..