... I've probably pretty close to waiting my last table for a while.
(You thought I meant the Inn, didn't you? Well, that too, but...)
It's not that I had a bad experience at the Changeling - Moira is still my best friend and Ashlyn is sometimes the only person I can talk to when the feeling of being a huge phony comes over me - though I know that there are a lot of people who were pretty badly exploited in that business. I'm lucky that Moira, having grown up in her parents' pub in Ireland, brought the idea that servers should be paid a living wage here with her and it's one of the conditions she had on partnering with Ashlyn to open the place. Lord knows others haven't been so lucky. Still, they could only pay an hourly wage and shifts were relatively scarce until very recently, especially if you don't have a car with which to do delivery, since it took a while to be at 100% capacity and that means both fewer people working and fewer people to tip per person. On top of that, tipping has become a real all-or-nothing situation lately: The folks who demanded that restaurants be open in the middle of a pandemic are lousy tippers, while the folks who are easing their way back into it to the point where they don't take their mask off until they're ready to take their first bite will regularly hit 25-30%.
I'd been picking up what I could when I got a call from the gym, mentioning that they were re-opening and if I'd like to renew my membership. I wasn't facing the nagging sensation of getting out of shape that Jordan was - you can't slow down that much with an energetic four-year-old - but I wanted to get back to climbing pretty badly. Sadly, I told them, I couldn't really afford it right now.
I got the feeling that they'd heard that a few times from the sigh on the other end, but then the lady on the other end surprised me by first asking if I was vaccinated and then if I'd like to apply for a job. I kind of laughed, saying I'd only been climbing for a few months before the pandemic hit, but she said that was good enough for making sure people were strapped into their harnesses properly and, besides, they'd probably start me at the front desk anyway.
So I applied, and I've got an interview tomorrow. In a week or two, I could be doing that on a regular schedule and even getting benefits. And the regular schedule sounds pretty good, especially if I can work it around school hours in a couple of months.
That's right, school - Little Moira turned four years old in January, and in Cambridge that means that she is eligible for "junior kindergarten" starting this fall. And that whole experience has been kind of crazy! Just forget that I technically never finished high school and it kind of feels like I should have some sort of graduation behind me before having my kid start, but the fact is that I grew up in a fairly small town with one elementary school, so it was one-size fits all, but here there's a lottery and you're expected to make decisions about what direction a four-year-old's life is going to be set on.
It's nuts! More nuts for me, because if faced with the same decisions, my parents certainly wouldn't have had any way to know that they should prepare their baby boy for being a single mother that everyone thinks used to be a stripper, and here I am, trying to figure out what I want for my little girl even though I know there's just no predicting where life will take her. It feels so random at times that I can see why some people are tempted to just take care of now and put their kids in the most conveniently located school.
I'm trying not to do that, though. I suspect that our applications were all kinds of a mess but that it really doesn't matter that much, since I intend to be involved and attentive and all that. Still, there will be chances to switch things up when we get a better idea of her interests than "she really likes Legos so maybe she'll be an engineer someday." I'm a little disappointed that she got wait-listed for the Mandarin-immersion program, and hope it's not some "why would a lower-income black girl need to know that?" thing. Maybe it is a silly bit of ambition I'm putting on her, but Jordan says that languages like that are a lot easier to learn if you start young, and it seems like the sort of thing grown-up Moira could use in 2035.
Listen to me. 2035. I'm trying to make decisions that will affect another person's life in 2035, when I got here by just falling into a situation randomly and then making one desperate decision that had the exact opposite effect that I intended. But I guess that's why I'll probably never be going back to the Inn, at least not before 2040 or whenever she graduates college, because it's entirely possible that she may wind up with someone somehow even more ill-suited to all this than me!