Why, RG, Why?

“I don’t get why you are doing this.”

“Of all the other jobs you could have taken, with your writing and editing skills, why a restaurant job?”

“…it’s time for you to stop thinking about yourself, get off your ass, and redirect your focus.”

Welcome to the whacky world of RG comments and email: the curious, the poignant, the nasty, the sweet, the thoughtful, the thoughtless.

I welcome them all. I read them all. I try to answer as many as I can. I am only so-so at responding to comments on my posts (Kim Ayres, how do you do it so well?), and a tad better at responding to email. And as any blogger must surely feel, my “regulars” are the best.

Whether written by regulars or one-timers, I am always pleased when someone comments, regardless of tone or intent. I love the comments that offer honest support and cheer. I love the comments that show someone gets the humor in my more lighthearted posts. I am humbled when a reader says I have moved him or her to tears, because chances are, I was moved to tears as I wrote the post. I love the self-described de-lurkers, and I am always curious how many of them are actually out there. Do I have a vast audience? I track my “read” numbers now and then, but I really don’t know how many folks out there are checking in on a regular basis. Some days I feel like no one is; on others I sense that the entire East Coast of the United States has wandered into my world.

Of late, however, comments and questions about why am I in Florida, why am I in the restaurant business, and why don’t I just get over myself, have led the pack. They have hit a nerve. At first, they made me feel slightly defensive. A few walks in the sun later, however, and I realize they have made me examine quite honestly what it is they ask of me, wonder about me.

Why am I doing this? If by “this,” one means living alone in Florida, I would have to say for the weather and the job. I hate winter and crave the warmth and sun and beach. What better environment in which to fall apart in order to put yourself back together again? And my job, although far more work than I ever imagined, utilizes by best skills. I probably drive my GM and the other managers crazy with my intensity at times, but I don’t have much of a life outside of work, so they are stuck with a not-so-happy-go-lucky gal as I used to be.

If by “this,” one means away from my husband, well, that is not something I want to publicly examine in much detail. It is one thing to share my own angst and emotions, but it would be terribly unfair to share anything more. We are sorting through what got us here, and that is enough said at this point.

If by “this,” one means going out on a couple of “dates,” and going to bars to watch football or treat myself to dinner, and meeting up with people who aren’t really like me at all–um, the few times the opportunity has presented itself, I have decided to go along for the ride. Sometimes it has been fun, sometimes not. I work a lot of hours, and my time off is limited to peculiar off hours by the rest of the world’s standards. My so-called “going out” time is relatively little in comparison to the majority “this” of my life down here–running and walking, writing, photographing this beautiful area–all very solitary pursuits. Sometimes, I just need to be with people–and not the ones I spend so much time with in my restaurant.

Why restaurant work? I am really good at what I do, at least with guests (for how I actually do at my job, you’d have to ask my GM). I love the think-on-my-feet interactions, the fleeting moments of personal connection with guests. I love to “sell” my beautiful restaurant’s ambiance and food and create special evenings for those who have chosen our place as the place to be to celebrate one of life’s milestones or just to have a simple lunch or dinner. I love moving all the time. I love the fast pace. I love it that no two shifts are ever the same.

Why not writing for a living? I have done it, and it was great. I hope to do so again, but not full time. I’d love to write a novel, a screenplay, a memoir. Writing Restaurant Gal keeps my writing sharp, and maybe it will lead to one or all three, at some point. But for work-work, the restaurant world is where I want to be.

As for getting “off my ass” and redirecting “my focus,” sorry. Not happening right now. From the time I was eight-years-old and found myself offering advice to my mother who had just declared to me–as she wept–that she wanted to leave her second husband (my step-father), to raising my half sister from pre-adolecence through college because neither of my parents were in an emotional state to do so themselves, to doting on elderly fathers (my stepfather and father-in-law) only to have them be forever angry with me because it was never enough–I say time out, and time off.

I remain a loving mother to my kids, and I would put this whole journey of introspection on a very back burner if either or both needed me in their immediate realms at any given moment, now or in the future. I remain a good friend to those best friends who are with me in my heart, no matter where I live. I hope they know I am there for them, at any time, for any reason, too.

The rest of the time is mine. All mine. For the very first time in my life, my time is my own, through all the sadness and loneliness and wonder and humor that this time includes. I will emerge on the other side a more self-assured woman, a better mother, and a closer friend to those closest to me. When will that be? That time is still up in question.

Thank you to those who choose to read about the journey as I live it, as I write about it. What a grand party we shall have when we look back on it, yes?






27 responses to “Why, RG, Why?”

  1. Rose Royce Avatar
    Rose Royce

    I’ve been reading you for a while. I’m a recluse in the SW. Everyone has their path to follow . . . I like to see how others view their world. If our life is a gift from God and what we do with it is our gift to God; then what we do is really our own creation, right?

  2. mags86 Avatar

    WOW! Great post! The only people that don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing are people that have never worked in the restaurant business – when it speaks to your soul – or people who have never worked at a ‘great’ restaurant. If I lost, or left my husband of 26 years – I would do what you are doing in a second! (But, I would go north – I love the cold weather). I’m so impressed by your journey and your courage……and that you share it with all of ‘us’…….all the best to you restaurant gal! May you continue with your great journey – and may it take you to a fabulous place – a place you were meant to be! mags86 (from Rehoboth Beach)

  3. Ex-Restaurant Manager Avatar

    I had a feeling the comment from “Anne” on your last post would inspire a post. You always seem to get inspired by a challenge, yet not get personally affronted when someone thinks they know better how you should live your life. You have no one to answer to but you, and I think that was the whole idea.

  4. The Pensive Penguin Avatar

    I see so much of myself in these sentiments. Yes, it is impossible to quantify (at least in words) just what it is that makes us work in restaurants, but there is that something–maybe the fast pace, the constant change, the constant human contact, the food, the anything else, it’s hard to say, but to those who have never worked in a restaurant, don’t try to understand it until you’ve tried it. I too am a writer, with a degree and credits to back up my skill, but like you, don’t have it in me to work in that business full time, especially when such a dynamic industry as foodservice seems to be calling to me. At 25, I have an endless lineup of people waiting to berate me for not “doing something” with myself, asking why I haven’t “gotten off my ass” and “directed my focus” including myself.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, for what it’s worth from a kid who’s reading in San Diego, the best thing you can do in life is what’s right for you, regardless of what anyone else says. Be true to your own wants and needs (especially those leaning toward your loved ones, if you mant my opinion) and you will, as you put it, emerge on the other side whatever it is you most want to be.

  5. jalii Avatar

    I expect to find words of wisdom when speaking to an elder – a much older lady – and I imagine myself learning at her knee. The reality is that the words are coming from a charming and beautiful fly girl. I truly admire you.

  6. Suz Avatar

    You make me smile, RG! Not because I enjoy your struggle, but because I understand the strife. There’s always a glimmer of insight in your posts–a perspective I took a fleeting glance at , then you remind me to revisit those thoughts again in my own world. And we aren’t in such different places which always astounds me! The part I like best about reading you is that there is always an underlying feeling that deep down you know it will be okay, even though there are days filled with doubt. I’m just wonderin’….can we start the party early, yes? Shrug off those naysayers–you have got it going on, girl!

  7. Don Avatar

    I have often thought of the restuarant biz as like a good virus….you cant get rid of it , but you still enjoy it. Enjoy your new life, the best part about it, is that you are doing exactly what you want, when you want, how you want…..how many people are there that can say that with conviction?

  8. Teacher mom Avatar
    Teacher mom

    I’ve been reading your blog, as well as many other blogs, for a long time. This is the first time I’ve ever commented on a blog. I can really relate to you and your situation. I’m a mother of three; two in college and one who is trying to ‘find himself’. The last twenty-six years of my life have been caring for others with little or no time for myself. We’ve been involved in all the sports, lessons, band, etc. over the years. Now I find myself sort of lost and in a rut. I have a job that has changed over the last several years, and I no longer have the drive I once had to teach. My husband and I have taken up a few outside activities, but there is still a longing I have for something different. Unfortunately moving is not an option due to aging and ailing parents and inlaws. I guess the point of this post is that I commend you for taking control of your life. I live vicariously through you. It doesn’t appear that anyone has been hurt by the changes in your life. You have done what you needed to do for you. Best of luck to you.

  9. Xan Avatar


    Not just the East coast of the USA, but the South coast of the UK.


  10. Waitress4Life Avatar

    wow – I love your blog. This post hit home. I have been a waitress for over half my life. I’ve had other careers in between, but I keep coming back. There’s something that always draws me in. Too many perks to count, and they outweigh all the negative. I guess it keeps me connected with people. I get to meet new people, have fun conversations, and it’s all on my own terms.
    It’s sad that people think that choosing to work in a restaurant makes us anything less than our “potential”. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Keep up the great work – you are an exceptional writer and thinker!

  11. Kim Ayres Avatar

    While you write about emotions and feelings that are foremost on your mind at the time of writing, your readers read the emotions and feelings foremost on their minds at the time of reading.

    In other words, with a good read, we pull out of it whatever is pertinent to ourselves at the time. Each of the commenters is partially commenting on their own concerns, worries and thoughts.

    And I’m no different.

    What I see is a woman who rather than accept a life she was not happy with chose to do something about it. Most people don’t. Most people are more scared of change than they are of pain. They will put up with the most extraordinarily painful situations, yet not change for fear it might be worse.

    But you embraced the change. That is a hugely admirable quality – one of the highest in my book.

    And thus it is one I’ve tried to embrace myself. If my situation is crap- try and do something about it.

    So what I see in you, is something I try and emulate in myself.

    Those who fear what you have done, or criticise are those who would never do what you have done. It scares them. Thus their comments really reflect their own fears rather than any true criticism of you.

    If all this becomes unbearable, you will change it again.

    And I smile at that ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Jenni Avatar

    =) this post makes me happy for you =) very happy! Your inner strength really shines in this post.

    what makes me happy is knowing you know you are in the best place for you right now.. the place you can take the time YOU need to do the things you need to be doing. knowing you are where you can “fall apart in order to put yourself back together again”

    I’m happy you are taking the time to do so =)

  13. heather Avatar

    Hey RG! Long time listener, first time caller ๐Ÿ™‚ I just read a great book that I think you would connect very well to. It’s called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The book is awesome, inspiring, witty, and very funny much like yourself ๐Ÿ™‚ When I finished the book I found my self with a perma-smile the whole next day. Enjoy!

  14. Robin in Ohio Avatar
    Robin in Ohio

    Dear RG,
    I’ve been here “lurking”. You’re definitely going through a tough time right now. I get the feeling you’re sort of in a “holding pattern”. Holding patterns can be painful sometimes, but hopefully we get through them, learn from them and then start life anew. Take your time and may you discover what you’re looking for/what will make you happy.

    Take care,
    Robin in Ohio

  15. Lex Avatar

    Congratulations for choosing to live your life on your terms. We (women) are asked far to often to put everyone before ourselves. You deserve to be alone with you to discover and reacquaint yourself with the wonders of RG. You rock. I celebrate you doing what makes you feel alive, for doing what’s best for you at this point in your life.

    Those who question should take note.

  16. Nicole Avatar

    I have been reading your blog for a while…I think your stories and real life angst are something that I can relate to. I applaud your courage and your gumption and only wish that I had enough guts to follow my dreams out of the corporate world….the time isn’t right….yet…maybe someday..but keep writing, keep sharing and thank you for making me feel like there are more “real” people out there than there often are in the very real world that I live in on a regular basis!

  17. Cootera Avatar

    I check your site every day for new posts, but rarely comment. I would hope that no one would have the lack of tact to criticize you for the life changes you’ve gone through of late. It takes courage to move hundreds of miles away from a life you’ve *known*. Whatever lies ahead of you, I wish you good luck, RG.

  18. Julie Avatar

    I know that examining what brought you to a place in your life is frightening. And, while it’s been an emotional roller coaster for you, you’ve done it for all the right reasons. You know where you need to be and what you need to do to heal. And you’re doing it. It makes me want to do a little dance. ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. Jennifer Avatar

    RG, it’s been clear since you moved that you DO need this time, even though it’s been hard. I think the perspective you’re keeping on it all is amazing, and that you’re going to come out an even stronger woman for it. I’m SO glad you’re not letting the negative comments get to you (get off your ass and redirect your focus??? WTF?????????). You’re doing great, and don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

  20. Mia Avatar

    Another lurker coming out of the shadows. I’ve been reading your blog for a little over a year now I guess. Came over from Waiter Rant. I check just about every weekday for new posts but have never commented before and am really only commenting now because you said you are wondering how many readers you have. I’ll raise my hand to be counted, and tell you that you’ve made me laugh and you’ve brought me to tears, and probably nearly every emotion in between. Thank you for sharing your joys and sorrows with us. It’s always good to know we aren’t alone in this world, even if it’s the annoymous character online and not the faces we see every day.

  21. Shannon Avatar

    You’re not alone.

  22. Brave Astronaut Avatar

    We bloggers stand out here in the ether aiming the spotlight at ourselves, all the while standing behind our blog bylines. There are those close to us who know us for who we really are and there are the rest of us who learn about us from what we tell them.

    You have long been an inspiration to me, RG. I deeply admire what you are doing with your life and the choices you have made. That you continue to share it with us gives us all the opportunity to “help,” whether that be in a comment, a side email, or thoughts of you. The nature of the beast is that all comments will come and some will not be what we are hoping to hear. It is up to us to take what we need from them and disregard the rest.

    You certainly know the darker side of what can happen to us out here, but in the end, it is really what happens to us “in here” (Brave Astronaut points to his heart) that really matters. We all continue to stand by you and are here for you. If you trip, we’ll pick you up. If you need a break, we’ll find you a place to rest. There is of course the anonymity of the Internet, but we all make our small little circles of support. We are here for you and you are not alone.

  23. K Avatar

    This is why we blog. We get out our emotions and put them on paper, maybe for ourselves or to see if anyone understands what we’re going through…
    I’ve had many people tell me to wake up, or to get over it, or what have you – but I know that I have my blog for me. I need to write my insecrurities rather than have them sit and churn in my tummy until I feel the need to vent out on whoever is around (usually a boy and this is usually suicide in any of my relationships… see? I learned this through writing, lol).
    It’s an outlet to get what’s in your head out – an introspective perhaps.
    I actually have two blogs. I just recently started a new one, to just get away from all the questions, for when something REALLY pisses me off, and I don’t want people telling me that I’m being offensive.
    We chose our paths in life, based on our decisions.
    Sometimes we just need time to ourselves.
    I’ve moved around so much (my own free will – relationships and etc pushed me a tad), and in the end, you do what works for you.
    I say Good for you RG! You’re doing what needs to be done at this point in your life.

  24. savannah Avatar

    what can i add that hasn’t already been said? i am honored to be one of your readers and to share your journey, sugar. *hugs* be well/travel save

  25. alex Avatar

    Well… if everyone else is doing it I guess I will, too. I will unlurk myself only to send you a big, warm, virutal hug: *HUG!*

  26. maureen Avatar

    I’m a little late in catching this so I don’t know if you’ll even read it but GOOD FOR YOU I must admit I have wondered why someone with your writing talent is’nt doing it professionally I guess it never occured to me that It might become a daily grind like most job’s I have also had to answer questions about why a smart girl like me wasn’t doing more with my life than working in a restaurant . but for the place I was in in my life the restaurant workk I did was perfect both personaly & professionaly . It’s so great that you can say you know what you want to do & can do it You go Girl !!!!

  27. CW Avatar

    I read, I read!
    The reason I check regularly is coz you weave a beautiful story. I admire your writing, and the way you turn your personal experiences into balanced, oft-funny take on life.
    Keep writing! Cheers!