Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bus Boy Hell

My mother popped me out on December 6, 1981. That makes me twenty-six years old. In between then and today, I managed to graduate from both high school and college, finishing the latter with a degree in Economics and Business Management from the University of California at Santa Cruz. In high school I maintained a 4.0 grade point average at Vermont Academy, graduating cum laude with distinctions in history, mathematics, and English. I played defensive line on the varsity football team, was capitan of the cross country ski team, acted in a few school theatre productions, and was president of the Saturday Morning Swim Club, a polar bear swim team. I entered college a merit scholarship winner but I smoked a lot of hippie lettuce, and skipped classes to go rock climbing. I exited school with far less ambition then I entered. Now, I barely have the qualifications to be a bus boy.

Half of the time, I am broke. The other half of the time, I do not have any money. I finished school at UCSC in the middle of June and headed straight to Yosemite. Graduating was not good. With the sponsorship of Pell Grants and Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, I managed to pay for climbing trips, buy gear, and climb a lot for four steady years. Recieving my degree meant a dry well; no more student loans. I needed to work and be able to climb somewhere. My old friend and climbing partner, Jens Holsten, instisted that I could find a job in Washington. “It will be rad," he told me in the Toulumne Meadows parking lot. "You can stay at the climber's house in Peshastin, you'll just have to spot and belay for room and board. Plus, we can carpool to Leavenworth." The Icicle Ridge Winery needed help in a couple days, and Jens, a typical dirtbag, needed a ride. Imagine that.

I climbed for eight weeks. It was sick. I pulled, cranked, fell, then pulled and cranked more. On week eight I started pulling and cranking, then felt a pop and my palm tingled. The tendons to my pinkie and ring finger tore apart Suddenly my right hand was useless. That meant no climbing and worst yet, no sex life. Jens assured me that I could make it through the recovery, at least I could find employment. He found a job, pouring wine at the Icicle Ridge Winery for minimum wage. Even Max, my roommate, had found work. The Fudge Hut employed Max, having him sell chocolate and wear the local costume for Octoberfest and the tourist filled summer months. He packed fudge in his leiderhosen.

The manager at Viscontis, John Morgan examined my resume. He told me I was overqualified for the position. Obviously, he had never seen me work. He needed help though and three weeks later he hired me as a bus boy for the Italian restaurant. I clear wineglasses, set tables, and box food. I also break glasses, arrive stoned, and hide behind the ice machine when the restaurant becomes busy. The other bussers wonder why I work there. I am old. I have a college degree. The servers think I should apply for John’s job, a position with responsibility, benefits, and stability. I wonder if they hate me.

I'm stuck in Leavenworth, working in bus boy hell, saving money to move and get another dead end job. The move will take me a month. I will drive to San Francisco, climb, drive to Utah, climb, drive to Vegas, climb, and then drive to Boulder. The four weeks of blowing the little bit of loot I scratched from carrying trays of lasgna, will be worth it. I hope.

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