It was a busy Sunday morning at Mel’s Diner, a local favorite in a small town in Victorville, California, a desert town on the way to Las Vegas.
The rush started, and the chaos began. The bell clanged on the door as the stream of people arrived. A crowd of customers lined up waiting to sit, and kids ran amok while the parents watched on indulgently. The aroma of brewed coffee, the sweet, crisp smell of bacon, eggs, blueberry pancakes, cinnamon French toast with warm maple syrup and sausage wafted through the air.
The busboys were collecting dishes, balancing trays, and cleaning the tables while the hostess greeted and seated the customers. Lucy, the youngest of the three waitresses, poured cups of coffee for the customers sitting 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, 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 another order to serve. Then she helped bus the tables, filling the salt and pepper shakers and napkin holders for the next customers. She hadn’t finished cleaning when a group of construction workers from across the street came in. Lucy sighed. She knew it would be a long day.
After working nonstop serving food and drinks, the restaurant quieted down a few hours later. Lucy thought her feet would 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 the “customer is always right,” and 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 a 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 Mel’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 part of her family. That was why it was so hard because they were the only relatives she had left; her only living flesh and blood. Lucy 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.
Lucy suspected her inability to stand up for herself happened right after her father’s death two years ago. She felt it destined her to live a miserable 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. Lucy lied about her age, so she could get a job there. She was not old enough to drink, let alone serve alcohol, but she needed a second job to supplement her income.
Lucy took a quick shower and got dressed. The heavy makeup she put on made it impossible to guess her age. She checked herself in the mirror one more time, making sure she looked her best. There was a special event at work, and the owner asked the staff to dress appropriately. This was not new to her. 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 be extra friendly to the customers. She was counting on the money she would make that night.
Lucy had no idea she was born into a prominent family with a silver spoon in her mouth. But how did she end up there in the first place?