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Musings: The Little Waitress

I used to cry at weddings, but that stopped a long time ago. A lot of changes came into my life and I no longer enjoy myself at weddings.

There’s all that noise and my problems with eating, and I can no longer dance, not that I’d ever really wanted to. I wasn’t the dancing type to begin with. Dancing’s okay for celebrating and for making a chassan and kallah happy, but when they start with those complicated little steps that many people don’t know….

I remember going to a wedding and arriving early, while they were taking pictures. I saw the bride enveloped in white, and the photographer calling the mother over for a picture of both of them. I didn’t envy them. The bride thought her life from now on would be joyous forever, and the mother was parting from a daughter she apparently loved very much.

So at this wedding — I no longer remember whose, and it doesn’t matter — the photo-taking was over, the chuppah had taken place, and the kallah and her mother had had the first dance in the center. The music was hysterically loud, and everyone had silly-looking smiles pasted on their faces. I was trying to sit in my place and mind my own business and think happy thoughts, but it was impossible under these circumstances, and I wound up just staring into space.

All of a sudden, the invisible people became visible.

I realized there was a drama being played out that had nothing to do with the music or the dancing or even the wedding. There was a very young, bewildered waitress who seemed to be doing everything wrong, and she was being harassed by her superiors. I heard them say:

“No, you’re doing it much too slowly.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“You should have finished the other table by now!”
“You didn’t even finish the first one?!”

I looked at the waitress. She was so young and so sad. She couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15. What caused her to come out on this cold winter night to try to earn some money at something she wasn’t good at?

I thought of my own two daughters who were around her age, safe in their warm house, protected, and far away, very far away from this girl. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She looked like a stray cat.
I looked at her nails. They were painted all different colors. And she had a piercing on her face, near her mouth, but there was no sign of defiance in her eyes. To me, she seemed to be trying to fit in somewhere in a world that was rejecting her from all sides.

I had all kinds of speculations running through my mind about what was going on in her life. Had she and her parents quarreled? Did she even have a mother?

I could see that she was trying so hard not to let her tears fall, but I couldn’t help mine.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 617)

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Tagged: Musings