Podium to Podium

Posted on Saturday 18 November 2006

“You gonna be busy tonight?” asked our regular valet. I was holding the door for him as he pushed his unwieldy ‘portable’ podium out front.

“Quiet to start, then look out between 7 and 9,” I told him, helping him give his podium a final push toward the sidewalk.

“Good, good, I like busy,” he said.

“Me too,” I agreed. “Keeps you energized, right?”

“Yeah. Because you know, I love my job–this job,” he smiled.

Now that he mentioned it, I could feel that love. He is always so upbeat, always smiling, always ready with a sincere, “How are you, good?”

“I’ve been doing this for six years,” he continued. “If I need to take time off, you know, five months, I can.”

Five months?

“They always want me back. It’s good.”

Five months?

I would be happy with five hours off on Monday.

“You know, I get to know a lot of these guys,” he said gesturing to a line of invisible drivers of invisible cars that would soon pull up in front of our restaurant. “They all offer me jobs all the time. At hotels. Everywhere. All the time, I say no.”

And while I am listening to him, I am realizing that this is the longest conversation I’ve ever had with him. I am usually dashing around getting ready for service, and he’s usually waiting for me to take a second to give him all the paperwork.

I am glad my host is coming in late so that I am trapped behind our gigantic permanent podium at this particular moment.

“I say no,” he went on, “Because I don’t like the, uh, you know, the commitment.”

And we stare at each other after that comment. Just for a second.

“I know exactly what you mean,” I tell him.

Except that I feel very committed to Chef and to helping launch his dream. And I work crazy, stupid hours for him, which, I guess, makes me not only committed, but somewhat of a liar to the valet.

“I have a weekend business, a small one, you know. My kids help me with that. They are 13 and 17.”

“Wow, teenagers,” I laugh. “I know that drill.”

“Oh no, mine are so good. My 17-year-old, he wants to go to college. He will. Because I tell him, you want to be like me, or do you want to be the professional, the big boss? So, he works hard with me. On the weekends.”

And now I ponder my kids’ multiple loans and our loans and their summer jobs and on-campus jobs and how hard everyone works to make it all work.

I am not so sure it’s commitment this valet doesn’t like. I think he might just be a liar, just like I am.

He likes the energy of a Friday night–as much as he likes keeping his commitment to his kids.

And, contrary to what he thinks, I suspect his kids want to be just like him.

1 Comment for 'Podium to Podium'

  1.  
    November 18, 2006 | 12:43 pm
     

    And don’t we all want something just a little bit better for our children – so they don’t have to work quite as hard as we have to make it? It’s great to see dedication to job, and family!

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