January 24, 2018 13:42
"I'm alone. In Brazil.
By myself, yet, surrounded by thousands.
It's a weird feeling.
No, no not being alone:
I do miss you
Let's be honest, I wouldn't have gotten here without you.
I just ordered a burger, I think
Not real sure, the menu was in Portuguese.
Either way no one can beat your cooking;
That's what I miss the most.
Look, I'll probably never send this,
but I need to write what it's meant to know you.
Dear Famous Daves,
Oh, my first love.
Working for you was a dream come true.
I’ve laughed way too much, met all types of beings, gotten my feelings hurt, and yet still saved enough to be writing this letter at a burger joint in Rio de Janeiro.
But I’m going too fast:
(^^2009 Trip to Dave's in Woodbury)
Tal and Steve were married in 2005, and after we settled into our new normal in Woodbury, we started a Wednesday tradition of Famous Daves. I don’t remember what her name was, but we had a waitress who began memorizing our orders. I thought that was the coolest thing! My favorite meal was buffalo wings with fries and cornbread and a Sierra Mist. A few months into the ritual, I declared “When I grow up, I’m gonna work here and get free buffalo wings!”
(^^too busy for a selfie? lame)
Now we fast forward ten years. Sophomore in college. I became really dissappointed in myself for watching ‘the Office’ series in three weeks. Like, that’s really bad. Not wanting to be a victim of boredom, I searched a few restaurants around the area. Ruling out Perkins and Grumpy’s, I found Famous Dave’s not too far down the street. I remembered the indignant claim i made as a child, and figured this my opportunity to make my dream come true.
The day after applying, I got a call from the manager asking for an interview! I showed up way too formal; completely overdressed. Like why was I in a suit to be a waitress. Wow. I met the boss of the joint a few moments later and they offered the job on the spot. Yay! And so it began, the next year of my life.
Unfortunately, after an incident with another black waiter and white waiter, where the young black man was unjustly treated, I quit in solidarity. Fast forward ten months, I went to Italy, came back and had no money. Not quite wanting to become a stripper, I borrowed some courage and re-applied for the same job.
(Maybe I’m not as down-for-the-cause as I thought.)
And here we are! I’m three weeks away from my last shift (as I’m soon heading to Brazil, and am doing well financially as an artist), and I wanted to, in no particular order,
share some of the most memorable moments and things I’ve learned as a waitress at Famous Daves:
(^^when squad 1 came through!)
.Five black boys taking the bus from St Paul trying to hustle people into giving them free things. I caved and got them a Dave’s sampler with chicken tenders and fries. No older than 10, one of them asked my number - as I’m sure he’s learned this from someone - and to his surprise, I gave it to him. All the boys laughed. Ha! I swear they’re puppies chasing a fire truck: what’ll you actually do once you catch it? They left with fries and tenders sticking out their pockets into the winter’s black sky. I never saw them again, but I wish them all joy.
.Bobbie and Leroy. A light skinned black couple that became regulars; she, always ordering fried chicken and, he, always looking like Jesse Jackson. One quiet night, I remember, they told me that the secret to being married 40 years is God. That there were times they didn’t think they were gonna make it, "but God". Their grand daughters are gorgeous little things. The oldest sat on her phone the whole time, and it made me sad. Bobbie looks like my Grandma Faye did; enjoy her while she’s here, young one. She can’t live forever.
.Placing an order for a woman who’s face was burned nearly off
.For a woman whose head was extremely small
.How 96% of Hispanic families got All-American Feasts
.How 96% of Black people get rib tips
.How I’m surprised when I see a 20-something black man who walks with poise and his shirt tucked in
.How I’m saddened when I see a 20-something black man wear Mary Jane like an expired cologne
(^^when squad 2 came through!)
.Nathaniel and Jerrie Loche. They came in this last weekend, actually. A light-skinned black couple (it’s important that I clarify shade) that’s been married for 55 years. He, with a shiny bald head and thick brown mustache in a beige suit. Her with a curly wig, red dress suit and sun kissed skin. When they came to the counter, after Sunday service of course, I got the uneasy feeling to ask them how long they’d been together. When I asked how it was even possible, she answered “God. Two months after marriage we met Him; we wouldn’t have made it without Him”. 8 kids and 19 grandkids later, the two came to celebrate her 79th birthday over some barbecue. Yay God. They got me thinking: maybe its okay to be patient. I mean I’m 20, right. If I met my guy tomorrow, and was committed to a lifelong relationship, and I lived until 80.. I’d be with this man for 60 years!!! I guess its okay to be patient right now. Cause once he’s here.. he’s here! Ha!
.<<Making friends with the other staff ultimately shaped my experience. Lets be honest, if you watch register while I eat these wings, I'll watch it so you can take that text. Its fam, it really is.
.The Mexican family that said “You’re the best!” after I moved their family of 6 to a bigger table.
.I learned how to use a cash register
.When St Paul fell silent after Philando Castile was shot, the restaurant felt it too. The silence broke when a white manager told a white officer “I’m on your side”. I remember how grave I felt when he said that. He mine as well have looked me in the face and called me nigger. (Oh wait, that happened on a different night.)
.I learned how to mop floors, wipe tables, smile more, love the blues, have strong muscles to fill ice buckets
.When the guy who looked like Chad, from GabeBabeTV, and his buddy came in. The buddy, dark skinned black dude, nodded in such a funny way to having buffalo wings! Hahaha ill never forget it! “Yea lemme get some a dem"
(When my squad TKTS came in one summer day >>)
.Why do we love soda so much? Like a family of 10 will literally spend $30 on just soda.. That’s crazy
.The 20-something white couple on their first date; the gal, never having been to FD before, “had such a great experience because of you!” Look at that! I brought them coloring books, gave a sauce tour and told a few jokes. Job well done!
. I learned how to be efficient. Bussing dishes is the worst, but I made a game out of it to stay sane; first, you have to create a rhythm. Mine was usually get clean water, clean tables, sweep, bring food; get clean water, clean table, sweep, bring food. FOR NINE HOURS. It felt like torture sometimes. Turning it into a game kept it light-hearted and gave me a sense of purpose.
(<<selfies make 10pm bathroom mopping so much better. lets all stop and honor that watch. tick-tock in piece.)
.Jean. This is probably the most amazing relationship I’ve formed with a customer: Summer of 2017 I was going through a reverse culture shock being back from Italy and was going a little insane. So much so I considered joining the Army. I went to the recruiting office and figured I’d join 92G, Food and Culinary Service officer.
I kid you not, at my very next shift there was a man that came in at 9 or so that ordered a half slab, broccoli and mashed potatoes. At least 65, he had brown eyes, but one that was turning into a deformed blue. He stood tall, as if his skeleton could never unlearn how to be a soldier. I got a sudden urge to ask if he’d ever served, so I did, and he responded yes; I served in the Army, he said. I thought that was ridiculous. Even more: I asked what his job was. You ready? 92G!!! Ya’ll I started crying! Haha I shared my little adventure of wanting to join 92G in the Army myself. It was an incredible coincidence.
A few months later, October, now, I went to Golden Thyme Cafe in St Paul and saw him chopping with the great Henry Combs! I reintroduced myself and told him about the coincidence of our meeting. The three of us bonded over my craft in photography, and we traded cards. // In the last weeks, then, Jean has returned to the restaurant and I’ve claimed him as my grandpa, getting that five finger discount! ( Jk just 25%) I hope to found a relationship with him as grandpa past my time at FD! #92G #coincidenceithinknot
(<<Sam, dad, having rib tips with beans and beer. This space definitely encouraged us.)
.Amaya bringing her little girlfriends on her 11th birthday
.Making bread pudding for Steve, Eli and Amaya
.Taking my sisters for buffalo wings before our camping trip
.Eboni and Mekhi sharing brisket
.Will, from class, coming in with his girlfriend
.Paul Eddy, Bethel prof, getting beer with his buddies and leaving $5 tips and asking me to take his class the next semester
.That one time an incredibly handsome 6’7 brown guy was staring at me. T’was a good night.
.Leadership matters. If you’re being led by someone who makes you feel incompetent and undignified, the most important work can seem meaningless. So pair that with a mundane job? Yikes.
.If you get along with your coworkers, the most mundane work can be amazing
Its funny how all of theses stories have happened in the same space;
within the same walls.
I guess that’s the prayer I have for myself.
For you, too, Dave's.
would foster -
That within them:
create life, fill bellies, ask for tears and beg for laughs.
(With some barbecue every so often)
And so, Famous Daves. It’s been real. I’m off to louder and more colorful things, but I'll remain humbled by stories stapled to memory. It wasn't me, It was you.
Love you forever and always,
January 24, 2018 15:58
(p.s. this was 99% clickbait, and may or may not have been written in Brazil. don't forget that you're in the good ol' days! be blessed and have such a great day! <3