Eggshells and Game Faces

I really like my current job. All else in my life may be in flux, up in the air, in question; but not my job. As I have said before, it combines all the tasks I have ever wanted to do in this business.

I really like my GM. I have worked for my share, and I know this one knows it all. He is a man of few words, generous to a fault; and because he is generous, people can and do disappoint him. He is serious and tough, but fair–all as he single-handedly pilots our ship through the treacherous seas of South Florida dining. Sometimes, he is not in a great mood, and at those times, it feels best to be far under the radar. He is entitled to his moods, however, as are we all.

I really like my co-workers, even the ones I was sure I would never like when I started here two-and-a-half months ago. I don’t like everyone equally, because some are more genuinely friendly than others. But given everything, I am quite astounded that I kind of like everyone. I have never liked everyone at a job. Likable or not, however, they get in their moods, too. And again I concede, they are entitled. But sometimes I just want to shake them and say, “You have no idea how great you have it here,” when I detect the bitchiness that is hardly disguised as a flip comment. But then I remember, for most, this is not the real deal, nor their only deal. They have day jobs, too.

I really like the other assistant managers. They can be funny and nice to me, for the most part, and the one I work most nights with is, much to my surprise, more on top of things than I imagined he could be. He also makes me laugh aloud a minimum of three times a night with his very quirky views and out-of-nowhere comments on the world that unfolds before us at the door. We have little in common, and he is crass beyond belief. But he brings me candy and promises to make me a “home-cooked Italian meal with no flour in it” moments after scolding me for spending money on clothing even as he compliments it. You never know with this one, and that’s part of what makes working with him interesting.

Over the past two nights, however, the fun has been forced. No one’s mood really lightened, as most moods do by the almost-end of a shift, when most, if not all, of the previous mood-killing causes have evaporated into a “Who cares?” sensibility.

Tonight and last night, I walked on eggshells around everyone. I carefully avoided tiny cracks. I studiously circumvented the obvious crevices. I momentarily pondered how great egg salad (made with Helman’s, of course) would taste, but quickly quashed that image because the undertone of the eggshells killed my appetite.

No one was in a good mood. Everyone was in a mood. One mood fed upon another. It was subtle; no one went nuts or quit on the floor, or anything remotely like that. In fact, everyone made sure their game faces were almost in place.

Game faces. Please. Wearing one IS something at which I excel, in my own mind, at least. I put on a game face–the likes of which I have never before contemplated–every day that I wake up in South Florida. On some days, it is all I can do to push the covers away and get out of bed, and even then it can take a few hours to find that game face. A walk or a run usually works to give me the energy to find it again. On some days, that energy is harder to harness than others.

If I can do it, why can’t everyone else? But who am I to know or judge what goes on in all these people’s lives outside the kitchen and service bar and tables and booths of my restaurant? I see not one of them for one second outside of a shift; not one would even consider suggesting a drink or anything else with me “in real life.” So, harking back to bad moods that soon diminish, I should be repeating many times over, “Who cares?”

It just wasn’t that simple tonight and last night. Tonight, I frequently reminded myself that I am not part of any problem. Tonight, I did want to slap everyone I work with and say, “Really, it’s okay. Because if I can shove “not okay” aside, five days out of seven, doubles included, any of us can.” Even though I know that’s only me talking, and I have no right to ask that of anyone else, except me.

I despise the necessary evil that eggshells are in all our lives, and I wonder if there is a work environment out there that has successfully done away with them. Meanwhile, my week is done. I have two days off, both of which will be lived in D.C. I cannot wait.

By the time my next shift begins, it will be Tuesday–simply another day–and yesterday and the day before will be totally forgotten.

Yes, of course, but what about the eggs?

Tread softly. Break gently. Fry over easy.






5 responses to “Eggshells and Game Faces”

  1. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Sometimes it would be so much easier if we didn’t possess an ounce of empathy. You, however, possess it by the shovel-load. On the one hand it makes you very good at what you do, however it probably makes you hyper-sensitive to everyone you work with, not all of whom will have your degree of empathy.

  2. Katie Avatar

    I hate nights like that.

    I hope things are back to normal when you return.

  3. Lex Avatar

    I walked on eggshells most of my life. The last 5 years I’ve been learning not to. Is there a tremendous cost to such a choice? Absolutely. But I’m experiencing more freedom than I ever have.

    I hope you enjoy your weekend and that you find peace everywhere you seek it.

  4. Ksue Avatar

    Kim said it all.

    Sometimes it’s hell being an empath. The trick is to not shut down your skills, because you truly DO want all that sea of info that comes flooding into your field at every moment. But instead to treat it like what it is — data — and use, store, file away or throw out, as appropriate.

    (It’s a huge part of what makes you such a good writer too, by the way ;-))

  5. joeinvegas Avatar

    Sorry, every job I’ve been at has been like that at one time or another. It’s what comes from working with people. It is especially hard when you boss is the one most affected.