I could have been home by 11:30 p.m. tonight. I had my blotter parking sticker in my pocket at 11 p.m. The night was young, in its way.
But I didn’t go home. Instead, I found my favorite former manager at my former restaurant, just as he was getting off work.
“I’ll drive you to your car,” he said.
Which he did, or at least to the side door to the parking lot. And there we sat, talking and talking.
“Do you want to go have a drink or something?” he asked, many minutes later.
Which I did. But I also knew we both had reasons to be home “early” this night. He had an early meeting tomorrow; I simply had another long day, and four more after that, to look forward to.
So we opted for the drink, choosing the nearby Irish bar.
“Just one,” I counseled. Which we knew would be two.
The GM of the place came over to talk to us. There I was in my perfect suit and coordinating jewelry; there she was in her simple black dress. Or was it a skirt? We both looked tired, regardless.
She and my favorite former manager laughed about old times when he was the manager there. They laughed about bar contests and games and how intense it had all gotten these days.
I smiled along with them.
I so wanted to laugh. I miss laughing at work. We laugh, at times, at the new job. But for me, it’s always just this side of serious.
I miss the down-in-your-belly-make-you-eyes-water laughter. I miss that easy, unforced familiarity.
I miss my former favorite manager.
But now I know where he’s planning to stay put for a while. And this time, I gave him my card with eight zillion contact numbers to reach me on–something I’d forgotten to do the last time I saw him.
He closes tomorrow. Maybe I’ll stop by and say hi again if I’m getting off that late. Better still, I may tell Mr. Restaurant Gal to drink coffee on Thursday night, and we’ll meet up with him and his girlfriend at some horribly late hour and listen to live Irish music.