Book by: Kathie Rivera
I arrived at the diner at four o'clock in the afternoon as usual. I said hello to my co-workers when I arrived and pecked the girls on the cheek as I entered to greet them all. I walked to the punch clock and placed my card in it as usual. The smell of fries in fryers, burgers and pork chops on pans were the usual aromas in here, but I was used to it. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed an apron that hung on a hook that was nailed against the wall. Lydia walked towards me because I would be covering her tables for today.
"Ana, table four has chicken wings with barbecue sauce, ribs with fries and a beef burger. Tables five and six already ate soups and salads, but they asked for hot dogs, fried chicken, burgers, here," Lydia said handing me the orders.
"Okay," I said. If I were a new waitress I would have been overwhelmed, but this was routine for me. I grabbed the ticket and read the orders. Lydia took off her apron and hung it on the hook. She waved goodbye at me, opened the little kitchen door that divided us with the clients and walked out of the diner.
The afternoon was busy as usual, although today was a Wednesday so it wasn't as packed as it used to be on the weekends, but there was always something to do at the diner. You either had to serve drinks, clean tables with a cloth, ask to the clients there if anybody was alright with the food, if they needed more beverages, pass out napkins or extra sauce, so there was really never a moment where you could catch your breath.
The only time I had to sit down and chat with my co-workers, although I considered them more as friendships and not peers was at my break. I sat down on a corner of the diner where I would receive the least possible attention and I would sit down with a plate of whatever the cooks had prepared in the kitchen and talk to my friends. If they were busy then I pressed my nose against a book, ate quietly and forgot about the diner for an entire half hour.
"Hi Ana," Chandra said. She sat next to me with a burger on her plate and fries. She grabbed a ketchup container and smeared some on her fries.
"Hi. Can I have some ketchup?" I asked.
"Sure," Chandra said and after she splashed her fries I did the same with mine, although I didn't add large quantities like she did.
"So, how's your father?" She asked.
"He's a little nostalgic. He wants to work at the factory again."
"He knows he can't do it with his heart condition," Chandra said.
"He won't. Besides he's receiving his compensation payments for it, but I know he's been moping around the house lately. Brian has been checking on him lately," I said. Brian was my little brother. He had enlisted and joined in the Army when he was eighteen. Now that he was twenty two he had been honorably discharged and was already applying for a job as a police officer. He still hadn't been confirmed as a recruit, but he was sure to get the call.
"Well, at least he's taking care of him, but what's going to happen when he gets recruited for the police academy? Are you going to quit one of your jobs?" Chandra asked.
"I don't know, but I might not have much of a choice," I said with sadness. Chandra patted on my shoulder.
"Oh, don't worry Ana, I'm sure you'll get to live your dream someday," she said. I sighed.
"I'm beginning to believe that my dream is honestly unreachable," I said a bit depressed.
"Don't say that Ana. I believe in you. I know that you can do it, but the challenge is for you to believe in your dreams," Chandra said. She chewed on her burger.
"This is so good," she said with her mouth half full. I thought about what she said and I wondered about my doubts. Was I finally accepting that I would give up my dreams and that I would accept my harsh reality? I worked hard, paid the bills and tried my best to save up some money for College, but it was nearly impossible to do so. All of my money was spent on bills and the only money I saved was from the lunches I ate here on Joe's. I ate once a day and only here which allowed me to have some savings on food expenses, but sometimes it was still not enough. Now that Brian was here I hoped that he would help me, but if he wasn't accepted as a recruit then the savings I had would be tarnished with his arrival. Maybe it was time to grow up and abandon my crazy ideas.
"It's stupid," I finally said.
"What's stupid? To go to College? Ana, that's not stupid at all. What's stupid is if you don't go," Chandra said.
"I would study a useless subject anyway. What can I do with a BA in literature?"
"Oh, I don't know, you can become an editor maybe?" Chandra said and my eyes popped wide open.
"An editor!" I exclaimed.
"Yeah. You do like to read books, right?"
"That would be such a dream. An amazing and wonderful dream," I said smiling. I could picture myself sitting on a chair, reading a fresh new manuscript with a pen in my hand and devouring them as I read, but then I quickly abandoned the idea and sighed again.
"What?" Chandra asked.
"It's ridiculous," I said.
"If you say so," Chandra answered. I didn't want to think like this, I didn't want to be negative, but to pretend that I was happy with how my life had turned out was not the answer either. I tried to eat my fried chicken and chewed a few bites off it, but I was not hungry anymore. I didn't feel like eating. I didn't want to be a quitter. I wanted to go to College and be somebody, but fate didn't seem to agree with me.
© Copyright 2017 Kathie Rivera. All rights reserved.