When You Wake Up in the Morning

“Can I have some of your fries?” she slurred, then reached over me and grabbed a handful of French fries off the plate of steak and potatoes that Upset Waitress and I were sharing.

We were starving. We were tired from work. We were drinking. We decided to order a big fat steak to make us feel better. “We’re putting our TIPS training to work,” UW laughed, referring to TIPS Class Rule No. 2,304–offer food to someone who’s done in. Who could potentially be us.

TIPS training is a program one’s bar makes you endure every few years to teach you how to recognize who’s a drunk and who’s not. Based on what I learned at my class a few weeks ago, UW and I should be cut off on a regular basis, and no one frequenting my bar should be served after 1 p.m.

Haha. Kidding.

Sort of.

So there we were, doing our best to behave ourselves in front of the remaining two bartenders in these parts who still smile hello when we walk in, and now a hungry drunk was making us look like t-totaling church ladies as she scarfed our fries.

“Are you kidding me?” I said to UW, turning to hunch over our plate of food so the drunk couldn’t grab any more of our coveted food.

“Eeew!” UW grimaced. “I’m not touching those fries now.”

The drunk girl stumbled away, only to return a moment later begging for more of everything. Every time she reached toward the bar and our food, I blocked her with my shoulder. This continued for another 20 minutes, despite the bartenders’ best efforts to force her out the door and into a cab they had called.

“Rouletta has better manners when she begs!” I told UW. “This is gross.”

“She’s just a drunk,” UW replied, her appetite now clearly gone. “We should just give her the damn dinner.”

So we did. And she ate it all until the plate was clean.

When she woke up the next morning, she remembered nothing about her steak dinner, until the bartenders gleefully told her about her antics the next evening. And then she offered to pay us for it, except she didn’t know who we were. Which made us even, because when UW and I woke up the next morning and laughed as we rehashed the night’s events, we didn’t know who she was, either. Nor did we care.


I had only been tending bar for a minute when he walked in, so thin and so obviously not well. He nursed a rum and Coke for three hours, barely taking a sip. He asked me where I was from, and when I told him, he regaled me with stories about the years he had spent in D.C. He made me smile, and I made him laugh, just a little.

When his sister woke up yesterday morning, he was dying. When she came in later that evening, she cried because he was gone. When UW and I cried with her, I knew there was nothing we could do to ease her pain. Time, we told her. Time. And then you’ll wake up one morning and you won’t cry.


He prefers his Manhattan in a plastic cup, two cherries please. She’s the social go-to gal at my bar. And I wondered how it was they both seemed so alone and lonely, until I found out that they wake up every morning next to one another. Which just goes to show how little I know.


I try not to hang on his every text. I tell myself I don’t care at all. Then I wake up in the morning, and I wonder if I’ll hear from him. When I do, it means so much fun. When I don’t, I shrug and I tell myself I still don’t care.

Because when you wake up in the morning, you start all over again. And again. And again.



, ,




12 responses to “When You Wake Up in the Morning”

  1. Mike Avatar

    Thanks for those little vignettes, RG. Awesome!

  2. mikepete Avatar

    I have taken that TIPS class a million times! Out here, everyone has to take a TAM class. (Techniques of Alcohol Management-did I spell any of those words right?) And you have to pay for the class-AND you have to pay and take it again every few years….such a racket!!!

  3. Laurie Avatar

    Nice writing RG. Keep it up!

    On a side note, I have developed an aversion to people over 30 who constantly text instead of talking on the phone… WTF! I guess I’m old fashioned that way.

  4. JoeInVegas Avatar

    Oh no, hanging on waiting for text messages again. Hope it goes well.

  5. kgrrrl Avatar

    Gawd, you totally just wrote everything in my head lately.
    Each day is new.
    But I wait for his text, but only cause he’s the one who loves me more… and I no longer feel the same, but just want to know he’s ok.
    And I wait, and I hope.

    I wish I didn’t.
    It’s a girl thing, no matter what end, we care too much.
    I wish we could turn that off.

  6. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Sometimes I wake up, aware that it’s a day to renew myself.
    And sometimes I wish I didn’t wake up.
    Neither of these states, however, is much of a predictor about how the day will turn out.

  7. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Mike–appreciate it.

    MikePete–I actually found it almost useful in one respect–When I had to throw someone out the other day–a first–I remembered the non-confrontational advice given in one of the videos. I know, stupid, but in the heat of the moment, it was good advice. Plus, my manager paid for my class. Very cool.

    Laurie–Thanks. As for texting, as long as it’s a mix of both, I’m okay with it.

    JoeinVegas–No, not really my perennial naysayer. That’s the point, wake up the next morning and move on from any worries of the day before. All good.

    kgrrrl–You sound like me. We think too damn much, and over think everything.

    Kim–Indeed. In fact, today is a toss up for turning out any which way in my world.

  8. namaste Avatar

    Gotta love those addictions.

  9. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal


  10. dan-E Avatar

    these short stories are great. it’s probably not unique to the service industry but i think that people who are incredibly social at work are often lonely people that use their job as a social outlet. i work with a busser who is always talking, whether people are listening or not. the few moments when he’s not chatting, he looks depressed.

  11. Phil Avatar

    Sometimes I wonder how I’ve gotten from one month to the next.

    How do we perservere sometimes?

  12. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Dan-e–Hard to tell with folks, most of the time.

    Phil–So nice to hear from you! As for one month to the next, mostly I go day-by-day, and even then I wonder how any of us do it.