Back in undergrad school, when I was a goofy Fine Arts major, hanging out in the print shop with lithography stones, acid baths, tar, and good paper stock, I was also a waitress at a local pub. (Stop me if I’ve told you this story before.) My working life began at age 9 when I babysit for neighbors’ children, and my first real “social security number on paycheck job” came at age 13 when I worked at a Mongolian barbecue/Chinese restaurant as a busgirl for a Taiwanese family. I am no stranger to hard work, but somehow, have never managed to work equally hard at saving the money. But that comes into play later.
So, I worked as a waitress in college. Nothing extraordinary about that. The particular establishment was around 150 years old, and though I realize in terms of European history, that is nothing, but here in the States, that was considered a pretty old shack. Some famous writer (*cough Poe*) was said to have stayed there when it was an inn. The manager at the time was what I considered a bit grizzled; she had two grown children, and it was rumored that had one point in time she was a stripper. The other manager, also female, loved to put on the jazz station on during our busiest day, Sunday brunch. I hate jazz. (Oh, but what I wouldn’t give for their home-fries and two eggs over-easy…). The layout was such that on the television side there was a small service bar and tables, next to the kitchen, the middle room bigger tables for large groups, and that had two doors that led to the “townie bar,” the main bar with a large mahogany bar, and about twenty bar stools.
Let me explain the colloquialism “townie bar.” Although the pub/restaurant was in a fairly established college town, there were still plenty of working-class folks all around the area. The folks who lived locally, and didn’t attend the college or work there as professors were the ‘townies.’ They dominated the large bar. They were rough, tattooed, gritty, and had more than their share of grease under their fingernails. Probably from all of the Volvos they fixed. We girls learned, (for the manager tended to hire only girls, and the majority of us had brown hair and long legs), that if we needed a break from the frat boys and “ladies who lunched” groups, all we had to do was go into the townie bar, grab an order or two for nachos, and bring them back quickly with a smile. The townies were indeed the best tippers. And I promise you, I was not a mercenary waitress. They always had a kind word, a warm smile, and kept their hands to themselves. It was not an easy place to be a waitress. (Is any waitress job easy?) Their manners and chivalry made the shifts easier.
To contrast: the frat boys. Usually blond. Perfect teeth. Smug. Every Monday night was mug night, nickel drafts, but only if the patrons used a beer mug bought at an exorbitant price first. Cheap beer and college boys are a perfect storm of mess. One night, a dashing young man walked up to me and said something to the effect, “My dear girl, my companion has regurgitated his beer in his mug, pray tell, and would you be so kind as to grab it, and take it in the kitchen and wash it out?”
Insert response here: “Go f83k yourself.” (Here is the cool thing about having an ex-stripper for a boss: she really doesn’t care if you tell some pendejo to GFY.)
There was never, ever an occasion when a townie spoke to me in that way, or treated me with anything short of utmost respect.
Now–why this anecdote about college boys who can’t hold their liquor and working-class Joe’s?
Well, I’m not sure exactly. I do know that I really showed my rear to a friend last night. I know this friend well, and know his personality, as he does mine. He just pissed me off over something stupid. And the story of the townie bar popped in my head at 4:30 am when I was thinking about it.
The thing is, virtual games that involve any sort of resource (the ultimate being time, because you never get that back), are just as deeply complex as life itself. I have friends in WoW who have made me the best gear, using their time and resources freely. I have friends in WoW who have showered me with flasks and flowers, just because they wanted to make sure I was okay. There are those who helped me with a pay-it-forward gesture, or showed me their choice mining routes, or the best place to spend an hour picking up loose change from ghouls. And. lest we forget, my guildmate who left me a treasure trove of in-game goodies, including Vial of the Sands. (I still feel like a favorite uncle died–rather have the friend than the material things.) My priorities may not be my friend’s, or friends.’ I try to make sure things stay balanced and fair in all my friendships, and although the interactions may be in a virtual world, the human emotions are very real. My priorities are this: help each other out, make them fun stuff if I can, use my skills to help everyone have fun, and if I don’t need something, don’t take it. If a player is trying to gear up or increase professional skills, help them. If they need fish, go fish.
Now. I am sorry I was an ass. I know you know everything better than I do, and when you tell me “I’m a tailor” because apparently the orbs are wasted on this profession, I get it now. When you tell me “In 4.3 orbs will be trade-able,” I REALLY get it, because although I am looking forward to this, I also know they will be less valuable. My frustration has been really with that stupid tank –*she* is not feeling very brave about pick up groups lately. All *she* sees is a room full of fraternity boys who have barf in their mugs, and no tip at the end. Again, I am sorry. That was a whole lot of baggage for one poor little dungeon run, and a strange way of telling you I miss you.
So, a toast to the working man. “To all of the Knights of the Townie Bar, I raise a glass to you, and drink to your long good health. May your waitress always give you warm smiles, and your nachos be hot.”
The next round is on me.
Postscript: For those of you who are worried about the fate of the barfed-in mug, have no fear. Another waitress hopped right over and cleaned it out. This same waitress cheated with my then-boyfriend, who himself, was the ultimate pendejo.
Theme song: Len/Steal My Sunshine
Postscript #3: thank you for the letter.