these precious hours

It wouldn't be accurate to say that every day is chaos. That would be exaggerating. But it is, generally speaking, an exceptionally busy location. High volume. Lunches are quick turnover, with lots of busy professionals streaming in from nearby businesses and the courthouse. Lots of tourists, too. Dinners are more tourists, lots of dates, and lots of regular customers.

My days usually fly by. Even when it's slow, there are a million things to do to get ready for the next rush. Constant restocking, constant cleaning and prep work. In between all this I squeeze in my administrative duties. Paperwork, ordering, emails, whatever. It is utterly unglamorous, and some nights I drag myself home feeling flattened and gross, because on crazier days, it can be grueling. But in its better moments, it can be stupidly fun. We're a small team, and pretty tight knit. When we get in the zone we are unstoppable, and there comes a real sense of satisfaction from moving quickly and efficiently, endlessly multitasking and holding a dozen different thoughts in your head. It takes a long, long time to really get it down, and when you do, you feel like a badass. It's high pressure, and we find a thrill in handling that pressure well.

At some point, I stop and eat lunch. My company has an incredibly generous policy towards feeding its employees. Within reason (there are some pricy things on the menu), we have carte blanche to eat what we want, when we want it. This is no small thing. This saves me hundreds in grocery money. On top of that, we're given a 50% discount on the products we actually sell. Organic, grass-fed, ethically and locally sourced, and just plain delicious. This too is no small thing.

My lunches have come to be spent at the desk, though. As much as I know I should take a real break, get some air, go find a tree and escape the mob -- there's too much to do. And if I don't put a dent in it then, I'll have to put in the hours later, when it's dark and cold and everyone else has gone home, and all I want is a bath, a bed, and my boyfriend's arms. So I sacrifice.

I can say without question that I love my job. Not because I have a love of restaurants, or the service industry, or hospitality in general. Not because my company is anything spectacular (though it really is pretty great as far as things go), and not because my coworkers are amazing (though some of them truly are). I love my job because I'm good at it, and because I never get tired of people, even when they are idiots. I love my job because it's both easy and challenging. It forces me to be focused and calm and problem-solve all day...and then I can just leave it all behind at night. It is a no-stress job that pays me enough to live a lifestyle I'm content with. It's enough. It works. And I'm grateful for it.

Sometime between 9:30 and 11pm, depending on what the day brought and what madness piled up, I pull my backpack on, slip my subway card into my pocket, lock up, and head home. I am always the last to leave, usually by an hour. I always leave alone. Sometimes this can be lonely. But it's also empowering. In a way, it really is my place. I spend more time there than anyone, now that my boss is running two stores. I'm entirely responsible for how it looks, how clean and safe it is, and how happy it makes both its customers and its employees. And when I shut off the lights and leave at night, I look at this little place I've spent the past year and a half in with pride.

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There is no feeling like that of catching the train just as you get to the station. If you're a subway person, you know what I'm talking about. I must have incredible subway juju, because this happens a lot. And thank god for that, because past 8pm, trains only run every 20 minutes or so. That wait can really drain.

Either way, on the ride home I'm usually texting with Timo, checking Twitter, or listening to music to block out crazy yelling subway people. I save my nighttime news (Reuters TV app - it's awesome) for when I get home.

My after-work home life is something of a disaster. I am usually too beat to make anything of these precious hours, and end up fucking around online, or texting, or falling in a Twitter hole. It's bad. And I've reached a breaking point with it, internally. I shouldn't say I do nothing with the time, because the fact is most nights I go for run. But that's it. No reading. No writing. Nothing creative or intellectual or self-improving.

Sleep happens when I finally give up on whatever chimerical vision I've deluded myself into (Tonight I'll start blogging again! Maybe I'll FaceTime with Cameron! Ok for sure I'm picking up that book again...), and I climb into bed a bit sheepishly, a bit ashamed of how my life is passing me by...but also fairly satisfied with myself, for another hard day's work behind me.

I may not be excelling right now. But I am doing ok.