My friend Jim is a better writer than I am, but lately I have to twist his arm for him to even dig out an old journal entry of his overseas, mountain-climbing escapades and post it as a blog. He has a real job now, so I guess I can understand cutting him a little slack. He doesn’t wear sweatpants five days out of seven and hardly ever sleeps til noon anymore…that’s more my style, and maybe always will be. But, it’s not like he has nothing to write about.
If I picked up the phone umpteen times a day and there was inevitably going to be an angry, embittered person on the other end of the line who’s been waiting minutes, even hours, to talk to me, I’d certainly have a thing or ten to say about the hilarious and sometimes scathing interactions that follow. The fact that precious minutes of dedicated housewives across America are ticking away on Jim’s waitlist is another post in and of itself, because if I had to wait three minutes to talk to him, I’d surely hang up! This is his life. And the issue is: it’s going unblogged.
The problem, says Jim, is that you just can’t up and write about work like that. They tell you so. Or so he says. Even when he delivered pizzas, it was the same. Now, don’t get me wrong – Jim’s an honest, straightforward kind of guy, if a smidge passive at times, and he wouldn’t say so if it weren’t so, but I’ve never heard any such thing. I’ve worked at a restaurant and catering establishment in downtown Chicago for upwards of 5 years. It’s not a small fry kind of place, either. As I’ve learned in my time there, it has quite the following: mostly folks that are older than dirt, but follow they do. Reputation and tradition are big time baggage that come with the simple duty of waiting tables and running off-premise catering events. I consider myself a veteran at the Berghoff and certainly in the restaurant industry at 9 years in practice. Never once has anyone given me the spiel about writing up the Berghoff or any other place on my blog. They never said do it; they never said don’t. No one’s ever said anything about it at all.
In fact…not only have they never told me not to write about it, but when our menus come out “quarterly” and they’re littered with poor English grammar and typos in the succulent descriptions; when three dishes in a row are described as “excellent” (a poor menu adjective, in case you hadn’t figured), they don’t even think to ask for help. I wait tables not to exercise my Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. Or to capitalize on my 9 years of restaurant industry experience. Or to enhance those 3 years in hospitality and tourism management where I managed students in two supervising positions. And waiting tables certainly doesn’t have a thing to do with my Master’s degree aside from how the tips paid the bills for the classes. Even so, it’s hard to watch three and four drafts of the dinner menu fly off the copy machine on non-recyclable paper reprints.
So, Jim says it’s not right to write about work. It’s his excuse for not writing at all. I don’t think I can accept his reasoning – not because I’ll go on writing about the Berghoff in my ignorance of business etiquette, not because of my absence of a real job, now and maybe forever, and not because I don’t think Jim is right on the money…I’m sure he is – but because everything is a catalyst for crafting words in those who can craft them. Sometimes I have dry spells and it feels like I can’t even play hangman on a piece of receipt paper without tremendous difficulty. But even when those days hit, I should be filling the back of a napkin with phrases, with word pairs or prompt ideas, with the shaky beginnings of exercises or alliterations. Anything to light the fire, keep it burning.
So….Dear Jim, write a blog. 🙂