The days leading up to Memorial Day weekend have a certain charge in a sleepy seashore town that lends any extraneous tourists like myself irrelevant, and beside the point, and almost tiresome because at any moment, the real guests will arrive, and for now they must endure us, like we once endured the great aunts at our graduation party before heading out to join friends around a bonfire.
Conversely, copious amounts of attention are given to the outliers like myself due to the high ratio of not only management but owners ready and waiting for the great explosion of humanity and cash flow. (God, let there be sun!)
Despite the empty establishments, there is an odd urgency in the air, like animals before a storm, so overcharged are they all in expectation, an energy which they disperse on unsuspecting guests as if to demonstrate in self-congratulatory fashion how much even the highest ranking member cares about the extraneous customer:
“How is everything? Do you need anything? Are you enjoying everything?”
By the time I leave my quiet window seat, I am exhausted, and they are relieved to be free of me, free of the saccharin attention one must muster for young children while facing a deadline.
Now to the real work—the menu updates, the food orders, the outdoor chairs and tables, the screens, the fresh paint (will it dry in time!), the last minute hiring for the kitchen, the patio stones that were supposed to be in place weeks ago but now require the unlikely effort of owners and both the day and night managers as well as the new dishwasher who doesn’t speak much English, but who seems willing to please for $11 an hour. (An amount that will never cover rent, let alone groceries, or medical care.)
Overall, the staff cannot wait for summer to be underway to be free of the managers (soon to be distracted by bank deposits), while the managers can’t wait to be free of the owners (soon to be spending said bank deposits.)
While even the well seasoned servers who typically play their roles effortlessly, fumble with extra steps, bumping into each other in the empty space, while their brains reboot patterns long dormant through winter, as ancient frustrations arise without any effort at all—that old bar broom with the bent bristles, the trash can whose bags fit almost perfectly, the teacups that must be wiped before use because the owner insists on a charming display.
But in 72, 48, 24 hours… the New Year rings in… and everyone–the dishwasher, the server, the manager, the owner, the tourist–becomes a teenager again.