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Ms. Alice

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When you look at her wrinkled flesh, you can sense she has experienced life. When you look in her eyes, you can glimpse at the years she has endured. When you look in her heart, you take note of her sorrow. She is as ancient as my grandma, but working amongst the young.
“Ms. Alice, why do you still work at IHOP? Why do you work, period? I don’t get it!”
“Oh honey, why don’t I work? If I actually had a list, it would be bigger than Santa Claus’.”
I questioned for a week straight with the same answer every time. I was determined to get an answer. I needed to know why such a sweet, adoring old lady was still working. Shouldn’t she have retired a long time ago? Shouldn’t she have family supporting her by this time in her life? Shouldn’t someone have told her that she should be in Florida like all the rest of the old people in this country?
Waitressing was not easy for Ms. Alice. You might think that a normal waitress just takes orders and serves them, but that’s not it at all. Waitresses, like Ms. Alice, have to polish the counters till they reflect the rays of sun, scrub the juice machines that have the tiniest of knobs, clean the bitter cold walk-in refrigerators, fill up the condiments that little kids just dump out for their own delights, load the sugar containers thirsty ice tea drinkers have left bare, and to top it off, she had to do it with a smile.
.“Ms. Alice, does your husband work as hard as you do?”
“Sweetheart, my husband died two years ago, and ever since then I have had to work.”
“But why? Don’t you have kids to take care of you? I don’t mean to say you should be a free loader, but they should at least be helping you out.”
“What kids? You mean the children who I raised and gave all I had, but never got the favor in return? What kids?”
She continued to reveal that she had two sons and a daughter, all very accomplished, all very polished, and all very successful. She bragged about them like a peacock that shows off its distinctive tail feathers, yet she was still troubled by the fact that they would not help her. She mourned not only at the loss of her husband, but in some way at the loss of her not yet dead children. I simply couldn’t understand why a child would not willingly help out their own mother.
Ms. Alice had to deal with howling fussy children. She had to deal with plates scorching her skin. She had to deal with the tight non-slip shoes we were forced to wear. She had to deal with arrogant customers that apparently had no clue what patience is.
“You may not understand what I’m going through right now, or why I put myself through all of this, but when life has you in a chokehold and won’t let go, you will do everything in your power to get out of it. Sometimes that means working as hard if not harder than anyone else. Since I’m old, and honey, don’t tell me I’m not old because everything hurts that’s how I know that I’m old, I have to work just to keep up with you young folk.”
She was right though, I had my youth, health, and flexibility and still I had trouble keeping up with what was demanded from a normal waitress, but somehow Ms. Alice did it. She moved at a slower pace than us but still, she did it. Her regulars kept coming in and she was always the busiest waitress at IHOP. She always had a smile for you, and greeted you like you were her own family. She just made you feel special like you had your very own spot in her heart. When you looked at her flesh, you could tell she had experienced life. When you looked at her eyes, you could see the years she had endured. When you looked at her heart, you could feel her sorrow, yet she kept going.





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