It was a busy Sunday morning at Mel’s Diner, a local favorite in Victorville, California, a small desert town on the way to Las Vegas.
The rush began, and the chaos ensued. The bell clanged on the door as the stream of people arrived. A line of customers waited to be seated, and children ran amok while their parents indulgently watched. The aromas of brewed coffee, bacon, eggs, blueberry pancakes, cinnamon French toast with warm maple syrup, and sausage wafted through the air.
The servers gathered the dishes, balanced the trays, and cleaned the tables while the hostess greeted and seated the guests. Lucy, the youngest of the three waitresses, poured coffee into the customers’ cups while sitting at the long counter and chatting with them animatedly.
Soon after, she heard the cook yell, “Pick up!” at the top of his lungs while ringing the little bell.
“Hold your horses. I’ll be there!” Lucy yelled back.
She stacked the plates on her arms to deliver the food, called out each order, and nodded to the person who had ordered it. After she had placed the plates on the table, she asked if there was anything else they needed before returning to the kitchen to pick up another order to serve. Afterwards, she assisted clearing the tables and replenishing the salt and pepper shakers and napkin holders in anticipation of the next set of patrons. She hadn’t finished cleaning up when a group of construction workers arrived. Lucy sighed. She knew it was going to be a long day.
After several hours of working nonstop to serve food and beverages, the restaurant finally calmed down. Lucy collapsed into a chair, exhausted.
Waitressing was difficult and challenging. Lucy worked long hours for little pay, not to mention the physical fitness and balance required to carry trays to and from tables. She had to deal with rude customers and low-tippers. The kids threw food at her, and many customers yelled at her, particularly outsiders. But the customer was always right, and Lucy had to put on her winning smile even when they weren’t. She had moments when she wanted to give up, but she had responsibilities. She had a family who relied on her income.
Everyone in their small town knew Lucy’s family was taking advantage of her generosity. They knew money was tight, but they continued to buy things on credit and expected Lucy to take on the never-ending debt without complaining.
Marge, Lucy’s best friend and supervisor at Mel’s Diner, tried to convince her to speak up and tell her family that enough was enough. Lucy knew Marge was right. She didn’t seem to be a member of her family. That was why it was so difficult, because they were the only relatives she had left, her only living flesh and blood. Lucy did not know what she had done to deserve their treatment. She worked hard to please them, and even let her family walk all over her for years.
Lucy suspected her inability to defend herself occurred shortly after her father’s death two years ago. She felt obligated to live a miserable life for the rest of her life. She would have quit long ago if it hadn’t been for her employer, regular and loyal customers, and the rest of the diner’s staff, who treated her as one of their own.
Lucy had to rush home after her day shift to prepare for her second job as a cocktail waitress at Harley’s, a popular local nightclub. Lucy lied about her age to get a job there. She wasn’t old enough to drink, let alone serve alcohol, but she needed another job to supplement her income.
Lucy took a quick shower and changed her clothes. The make-up she wore made it impossible to tell how old she was. She double-checked herself in the mirror to ensure she looked her best. There was a special event at work, and the owner asked the employees to dress appropriately. It was nothing new to her. The owner of the bar regularly held a special event at the club. This time, it was the boss’s daughter’s birthday. Lucy had to look stunning and be extra friendly to the customers. She was counting on the money she would make that night.
Lucy had no idea she came from a prominent family with a silver spoon in her mouth. But how did she get there in the first place?
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