Tales From the Café: Not My Best Day

Time: Tuesday, 1:15 pm

I hate Tuesdays. They are my least favorite day of the week, and always have been. This was a particularly stupid Tuesday. I wasn’t feeling well, my guitar had broken two strings on me the night before, my car was likely to need more work on it than I could afford, and I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in a week.

But I try not to bring that to work with me. Doesn’t always work, but I try.

Whenever I’m in an off mood, not feeling well, anything like that–I put my head down and just do my work. In front of the customers, I’m smiling and cheerful as ever. That’s what they came to see, and that’s what I’m more than willing to show them. But among my coworkers, I’m quieter and stoic, just trying to get through the day without passing out.

I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly gregarious person–at least, not since I left my teens or so–but I guess when I get quiet, it’s noticeable. Something on my face, in my voice, don’t know. “You okay?” Raine asked me, her voice soft.

I looked over from the soda cans I’d been staring at. “Huh? Oh, yeah. I’m fine. Lost track of myself for a second.” I shook my head, trying to clear my brain of the fog I was stuck in, and grabbed the few cans I needed to restock the cooler out front.

“You sure?” She followed me out. Raine had been working here a few months longer than me, and was one of the waitresses I got along with best. I think our senses of humor matched each other pretty well.

“Yeah, I’m just feeling out of it.” I stacked the cans up. “Bad night last night.”

“Aw, I’m sorry.” She hesitated, then apparently got summoned by someone, since she headed off into the café proper. I took a deep breath and stood again. Table needs to be cleaned off, I thought to myself, looking over toward the fireplace. I grabbed the plates, swung them into the kitchen with a call of “Corner” and then headed back out with a plate to deliver. Drop it off to the customer, smile and ask if they’re waiting on anything else. No? Sounds like a plan; enjoy. I take the number tag and head back in again, with some more plates I’ve picked up. Repetition, you are my best friend. I don’t need to think about this.

This time, I dropped off the plates and there wasn’t an order to be run. I glanced up at the screen, looking to see what all was coming down the line. Something would be ready soon, but not immediately. Okay.

“Hey Hunter, you okay?”

I blinked, looking back at the lead chef, Drew. “What? Yeah.”

“You seem kinda out of it. You sure?”

I shrugged. “It’s been a shitty day and a shitty past few days. I’m not feeling hot, but I’ll be fine. Just one of those days you need to survive, ya know?”

Drew nodded. “Yeah, I hear ya.”

I took a breath, ready to face the café floor again, when I felt a soft pat-pat on the top of my head. Utterly knocked off guard, I turned to see who was there – only to find Nate, with an amused smile on his face.

I couldn’t help it; that got a genuine smile from me. “Thanks, man.” Then to Drew, “Both of you.”

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the day worth fighting for. I still hate Tuesdays, but maybe this one wouldn’t totally suck.


One thought on “Tales From the Café: Not My Best Day

  1. Being able to find the good part of a terrible day is an integral aspect of self-care. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness allows us to shift our despair to optimism. Thanks for sharing a simple yet powerful moment.

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