Jim Trainer

Workingman’s Blues#2: Peach, Plum, Pear

In Uncategorized on March 11, 2014 at 3:06 pm

The only lasting and final danger is this contentment. When I got this Caregiver gig I was pulling 12hour shifts on deathwatch-hospice care. I had just finished a stint as a temp at the University COOP and I totalled my car on the onramp to Ben White one rainy night. Apparently I owed $1,641 in overpayment of Unemployment Compensation to the state. I was somehow lower on the food chain than I was 3 years before when I moved down to Austin with $160 and 2 guitars. Well certainly lower on the food chain emotionally, if this was all I had to show for being a writer.

Then in what seemed like a stroke of lightning I got published. A poem of mine appeared in Divergent Magazine that hateful fucking winter. Then I got this job.

At 1 and 3/4 years this gig has eclipsed the longest job I ever had. That would be as a busboy at that bougie place on the row, from 2004-2005. This is beautiful writer Natalie Wilson’s (nee Kelly) recollection of meeting me, in that place and at that time. I have quite a different memory of the first time we met, however. Mine involves allot more light and, forgive me- it’s hard to piece together fully my recollection of the first time I ever saw one of the most gorgeous women I will ever see in my life.
Her memory isn’t too far off. I guess there was some darkness involved, bourbon and some hatred but, as the following passage will attest, back then she couldn’t tell the object of my hatred. Then again neither could I.

Am I so dear?
Do I run rare?
You’ve changed, some.

-Joanna Newsom

On a typical night in a different life, I climb the stairs from the basement of the cafe. Waiting at the top of the stairs is a room full of fresh-off-the-clock servers, cooks and bartenders fulfilling an unspoken three drink minimum after a long night in the dining mines. I always show up just in time- right before the paying customers leave, giving the green light for employees to infiltrate one of the more creepy dining rooms I’ve ever occupied. Once the dining room customers are gone, the bartender’s hand gets heavy- giving employees no reason to leave.

The room is small but it seats many. Old paintings of dogs hang on wall paper that could be 100 years old. Around antique tables, employees convene to discuss the events of the evening. Cooks grumbling about special requests, servers trying not to insinuate race was a factor when complaining about a the 10% tip and bartenders feeling happy and drunk. Eventually people disappear for several moments to the gender neutral bathrooms in the basement. Behind those doors, little straws transport cocaine of questionable quality from Point A (the back of the toilet seat) to Point B (up the nose). While a mural of a bulldog taking a shit observes their actions, they check their appearances in the mirrors as a wave of energy takes over.

The room becomes smaller when the heads are filled with cocaine. Conversation is intense, loud and not about anything even remotely important. A dozen people sit chain smoking, leaving half extinguished butts to smolder like incense. I can no longer follow conversation and the whole scene is giving me a touch of anxiety. So up into my head I go on an journey of quiet observation.

I half wonder if the man walking into the room is a figment of my imagination. His entrance goes unacknowledged as he quietly sits in the chair next to the door. The white noise of coke head conversation rages on without missing a beat. He crosses his legs and lights a cigarette. The cloud lingers as if there’s no circulation in the air around him giving the appearance of a protective bubble. His glass is small but full and it won’t last long at all. I don’t know who this man is with his tenebrous demeanor but I do know that he just might loathe everyone in the room.

In such a small room, a tall man can seem like a giant. I observe him as he monitors the booming conversation. He does not involve himself in any of the discussions. But the subtle changes in the expression on his face communicate enough: He is not amused.

I continue to observe in anticipation of a break in the cloud. A smirk, a forced smile or a sarcastic remark. Maybe a one syllable “ha” at the cook’s description of his oversized testicles. But he remains in his cloud clearly desiring to be someplace else.

  1. […] Philly and, the second longest job I’ve ever had, working as a busboy for the White Dog Cafe (2004-2005).  Maybe I should consider my current gig as the second longest and reconsider that I’ve been […]

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