Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Brilliant Career

                                          And Then Came Mabel

Mabel had a certain bawdiness about her and she often made off color comments out the side of her mouth regarding certain customers.  Her ample body was as soft and round as her face, which was framed by coarse wiry puffs of hair that resembled combed out pot scrubbers. She always wore a necklace with the initials G.I.B. at the front.

When I asked her about it, she elbowed me in the ribs and side whispered in my ear, “You know what that means doncha?!  Good in Bed!  An old lover of mine gave it to me and I never take it off.  Even when everything else is on the floor – the necklace stays on!” She laughed a throaty laugh and added with a wink, “Good advertising!”

Mabel had worked in every state in the Union except for Hawaii and she had a story for every one of them too.  She’d even worked a lumber camp in Alaska and she’d always make a crack about the amount of “wood” she got up there.  She loved to tell about the time she had waited on the Governor of California.

“Of course that was in my younger days when men were always making a play for me.  I mean I look good now, but you should’ve seen me 15 years ago baby!”  She’d shake her head for a minute as if to erase that old memory of herself and then continue, “Well I was the best so of course I was assigned to the VIP room.  When I bent across the table to serve the Salisbury Steak that California governor smacked me right on my rear end.  Well just as fast as that S.O.B. slapped my bottom doncha know I turned around twice as fast and slapped his face.”  “I told him, ‘I don’t care if you’re the King of Sabu – nobody touches me without my permission!’”

One of the regular truckers interrupted her story to say, “Service sure is slow today Mabel!  Think you could speed it up a bit?” as he twirled his empty coffee cup in the air like a cowboy’s six shooter.  Mabel made a face at him, grabbed the coffee pot and as she strolled toward him answered with, “I ain’t slow and I ain’t fast Shorty.  I’m half fast!”

As his fellow truckers at the table  got her joke they chuckled at her remark and as she refilled all of their cups, Shorty nodded at her and said, “Well you sure got that right!”  Then they all busted up laughing, even Mabel, who turned her back on the table and said in a low voice to Nelda standing at the counter, “Needle dick the bug fucker!  And you know I know.”  Both women smiled at that, though Nelda just kept rolling silverware and shaking her head.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Brilliant Career


                                        Hard Knocks U

Indeed, the Pixie Pancake Truck Stop furthered my education though often the schooling was of a more lurid variety.  As it turned out, my three main professors in the School of Hard Knocks were three career truck stop waitresses, Pauline, Mabel and most of all, head waitress, Nelda Brown.

Pauline scared me a little because she was just so angry all the time.  She just had a stub for her right arm with three pudgy fingers where her elbow should be and I thought maybe that’s what made her so proud and mean.  She dyed her hair a harsh bluish black and she penciled in her eyebrows with a black Maybelline pencil in straight lines above her burning dark eyes.  She wore bright red lipstick which made her thin lips look like a straight red line dissecting the lower half of her face. 

She never smiled but she could balance 5 to 6 plates on that stubby appendage all the way up to her shoulder and she could serve a table faster than anybody. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Brilliant Career

                                                       A Plate Is Broken

Daddy believed in hard work and in the way it could shape your character, so on my 12th birthday he broke my plate.

“You’re old enough to help out around here now,” he explained as I picked up the shards of broken plate, while my Mom admonished him for using one of her “good” plates that matched instead of an old everyday mismatched plate for his ritual.

“Naw!” he insisted, “It has to be part of the set so she knows I mean it.  You don’t get your plate filled for free no more!”  Mama handed me the broom while muttering under her breath about finding that same plate in the next box of Duz laundry soap.

He went on to say, “Women only go to college to get their MRS degree.  That’s what all your girlfriends are planning on doing.  Getting to college and catching some doctor or lawyer and get set up for life!  That ain’t for you!  You will be like me and your Ma and go to the School of Hard Knocks.”  His speech was interrupted momentarily with a snort of sorts from Mama so that glaring at her he then went on, “The only degree you gonna get is a degree in Life and it will serve you better than four years of book learning.”

Before I could protest, he smiled broadly and added, “So I got you a job waitressing at the Pixie Pancake Truck Stop off I-70 there.  You start tomorrow.  Dollar ten an hour plus tips.  Once you get your first paycheck you can start paying 80 dollars a month room and board.  Then maybe we’ll buy you another plate,” he added with a wink.

The next day when he dropped me off in the parking lot at the Pixie my stomach was full of butterflies and my legs felt like jelly.  As I headed toward the door I reminded myself that I was a Hill and Hills are from hardy stock.  My voice only squeaked a little when I introduced myself to the Manager, Mr. Skank.  His name did not bode well for my future career.