I said hi to the two waitresses I knew, then a third waitress came over to my table. She knew me through her co-workers. Since I had the laptop open, she started asking me about my work, and revealed that she had taken a few certification courses herself. The knowledge, however, was almost worthless ... they'd taught her all about IRQ settings, DMA, COM ports, and the like. It's all USB now, man.
What she really wanted to learn, was web pages. Her husband used to be a military wholesaler, but his business took a nose dive after September 11th last year. They've both been living on the waitress' salary, while he tries to start a newer, more exciting business, pursuing his hobby ... custom-built skateboards.
Real, classic boards. Boards with stripes of walnut grain in them. Long boards, that you can ride uphill without touching your feet down, using pure hip-motion. They've done some research online, and there are only a handful of craftsmen in the world who do what he does, and have a web page for it.
She asked me if I wouldn't mind tutoring her, on a paid basis, or perhaps designing the website for her and her husband. They have the DSL connection already, they just don't have the know-how. Plus, she noticed my digital camera. The perfect instrument to make a digital catalog of all her husband's creations.
"Odd," I thought to myself just then. "I never even considered that this camera would be of practical use."
She wrote her husband's name and phone number on a napkin, which I transcribed to my palmpilot. She implored me to consider the offer, and call her soon. She also told me of a weekend bike-ride event happening in San Diego ... a 20-mile self-paced night ride, combined with a mobile costume party. A yearly thing. Sounds fun.
Then it got very busy. For two hours, I put on my headphones and wrote perl, while the ladies in blue bustled around the restaurant. When it finally settled down, Eddie the cook staggered out of the kitchen and fell across the bench opposite me. He was shiny with sweat.
"Oh, man, what a fucking madhouse. I wanna go home. The bones in my body are, like, grinding together, man."
Eddie and a waitress and I talked, about food, conformity, the work ethic, teeth, Go-Bots, and Transformers. He showed the waitress the scar tissue in his shoulder from when he'd been accidentally shot in Guam, when some yahoo celebrating the new year unloaded a rifle into the air. When a set of breakfast orders came in, he invited me to watch him work.
I know why all restaurant food tastes greasy now. It gets on everything, because Eddie spoons it onto the grill regularly. He made three omelets, twelve pancakes, five orders of hash browns, and a large T-bone steak, all at the same time, and added bacon and sausage from the large pile he'd pre-cooked earlier (see previous journal entry!). The sight of all that grease made me want to drive home and eat a pile of the crisp vegetables in my fridge.
So I did.