"Is there something wrong with me that only girls hit on me here?" I ask aloud, hopeful that someone will hear the question. I've been here for three or four hours, with almost nothing to do, and thoughts can make a person go crazy after too much quiet. One of the girls, she is maybe 4'9" and dark-skinned, laughs without sound, or at least quietly enough that she cannot be heard over the raging birthday music in the background ("What's the Fox Say?" and today we are also playing "Oops, I Did it Again," and "The Way You Love Me," by Faith Hill). Erin is too busy to respond. "I mean, they offer to buy me shots, give me their numbers...why doesn't that happen with the guys?"
This happened at Cracker Barrel too. I had this table of three women, all overweight and mostly quiet. Two appeared my age or younger, in their twenties or teens. The one with highlights in her black hair kept glaring at me, and I was feeling a bit nervous. But when I returned, she had left the table, and the woman across from her seat handed me a folded piece of paper, saying, "My sister wanted me to give this to you."
Inside was a phone number. Apparently what I had assumed was glaring, were really looks of longing. I kept the phone number, as I kept all notes received from serving at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, Olive Garden, Roosevelt Lodge, and now, the entertainment center.
I keep the notes and tack them up individually, on the bedroom wall where my calendar is. I am a note guardian. Some of these notes feel like secrets; but most are acts of humanity. They remind me that people can be kind, and that they are grateful, sweet, and giving. I have many religious notes, (Cracker Barrel is big on Christian visitors), telling me to find god if I haven't been saved, and some offering me warm food and a place to sleep, should I ever need it: Fellowship, it's called.
I even keep the angry notes, where people write what a terrible server I am, and what a horrible person. It isn't my masochism, or a way for me to laugh at them. I keep them, I think, because I want to acknowledge that they have spoken. I might not like what they say, but I have heard them. Maybe there is no one else for them to speak to, or yell at; maybe they work and live in places where they are silenced, and told that their thoughts and feelings don't matter. At the entertainment center, I understand this all too well. So I keep the notes. I listen.