It was a busy Sunday morning at Ray’s Diner, a local favorite in a small town in Victorville, California, a desert drive on the way to Las Vegas if you were heading that way.
The rush started, and the chaos began. The bell constantly rang on the door as the stream of people arrived. A crowd of customers lined up waiting to be seated and kids ran amok while the parents watched on indulgently. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the irresistibly sweet, crisp smell of bacon, egg, blueberry pancakes, cinnamon French toast with warm maple syrup and sausage wafted through the air.
Bus boys were frantically collecting dishes, balancing trays, and cleaning tables while the hostess greeted and seated the customers. Lucy, the youngest of the three waitresses, deftly poured cups of coffee for the customers seated at the long counter while talking to them animatedly. Soon she heard the cook yell pick up at the top of his lungs while ringing the little bell.
“Hold your horses, I’m coming,” Lucy yelled back.
She stacked the plates on her arms to deliver the food while it was still warm, called out each order, and nodded at the person who had ordered it. After she had placed them on the table, she asked if there was anything else they need before heading back toward the kitchen to pick up the next order. Then she helped bus the tables, filling the salt and pepper shakers and napkin holders for the next customers. She hadn’t finished wiping some of the tables when a group of construction workers from across the street came in. Lucy sighed deeply. The hostess promptly seated them, and Lucy handed each one a menu and set silverware and water glass. When the customers knew what they wanted, she began taking their orders. After working nearly nonstop serving food and drinks, the restaurant finally quieted down a bit a few hours later. Lucy thought her feet were going to fall off and she dropped into a chair, exhausted.
Being a waitress was hard and had a lot of challenges. Lucy worked long hours for little pay, not to mention it required physical fitness and balance to carry trays to and from tables. She had to deal with rude people and poor tippers. Children dumped food on her, and she got yelled at a lot from out of town customers, but no matter what, they were always right. Lucy had to put on her winning smile, even when they didn’t smile back. There were times she wanted to give up, but she had responsibilities. She had family who relied on her income.
Everyone knew Lucy’s family was taking advantage of her generous nature, well maybe not everyone, but it was common knowledge in their small town how her family had treated her. They were aware money was tight, but they continued to buy things on credit and expected Lucy to shoulder the never-ending debt without complaint. Marge, Lucy’s best friend and supervisor at Ray’s Diner, tried to get her to speak up and tell her family enough was enough. Lucy knew Marge was right. She didn’t feel like family. That was part of why it was so hard because they were the only family she had left; her only living flesh and blood. She didn’t know what she did to cause them to mistreat her. She tried hard to please them and even allowed her family to walk all over her for years. She suspected her inability to stand up for herself happened right after her father’s death, but she had no idea why. She felt she was destined to live an unhappy life forever. If it weren’t for her employer, regular and loyal customers, and the rest of the diner’s staff, who had treated her as one of their own, she would have quit a long time ago.
As soon as she finished her day shift, Lucy had to rush home to get ready for her second job as a cocktail waitress at Harley’s, a popular local nightclub. Yes, she worked as a waitress at Ray’s Diner during the day and a cocktail waitress at night to support her family. She lied about her age so she could get a job at a bar. She was not old enough to drink, let alone serve alcohol, but she needed a second job to supplement her income.
She took a quick shower and got dressed. The heavy makeup she put on made it impossible to guess her age accurately. She checked herself in the mirror one more time making certain she looked her best. There’s a special event at work, and the owner asked all staff to dress appropriately. This was not new to her. Every now and then, the bar owner held a special event at the club. This time, it was the boss’ daughter’s birthday party. She had to look beautiful and extra friendly to the customers. Any tips she made that night were hers to keep.
She had no idea she was born into a prominent family with a silver spoon in her mouth.