From my twin sized bed, under a mess of random linen. Surrounded by a sea of clutter, both mine, and my roommate’s, I sit here, exhausted, at the end of another long day.
At 3:40 am, my alarm chirped into my plugged left ear; it could have been a mile away. Tempted to snooze, I forced my achy body out of bed, toward the shared bathroom shower in the hall. Out of the steamy yellow room, I crept back into darkness, attempting to dress without waking my roommate.
Engulfed by the cold purple air, I stepped into morning, with a wet head of hair, a shirt, and thin black dress pants, I began my ascent to work. Up a series of muddy switchbacks, I climbed nearly half a mile, as my parched mouth gasped for air and my legs screamed for mercy.
At 4:30 am, I clocked in, and began preparing the restaurant for open. For the next 7 hours I lifted, plates, and trays, pots of coffee, and jugs of ice; I took orders, from grumpy old men, and annoying kids; I cleaned, tables and carpets, plates, and the buffet; and I walked, 13,342 steps (7.2 miles).
At 11:37 am, I sat in the Employee Dining Room, better known as EDR, struggling to keep my eyes open while mindlessly chowing down on another cafeteria meal, with a return trip through the switchbacks looming between me and my post shift nap.
I live in a box sized dorm room, with two drawers for my clothes, a built-in shelf separating the beds, a sink, and a door, to the twice shared bathroom. Each morning at the break of the Alaskan Dawn, I climb a treacherously steep series of muddy switchbacks to work, where I’ve spent 13 of my last 15 days. My diet consists of monotonous cafeteria meals, with occasional handfuls of leftovers from the picked over breakfast buffet. I live in a no-name town that consists in its entirety of one thru street with a handful of log shops on the right-hand side. I live, in a treacherous place, with far more predators than people. I work, as a server, making minimum wage. I work, in a job that forces me to approach strangers on a repetitive basis.
The demeaning nature of it
The forced interactions
The anxiety of approaching new people
The lack of options
The lack of “things” to do
The exhaustion in my legs, my body, my mind
The fact that I left a steady, good-paying job in South Korea, one that I fought for eleven months to get, to become a server. I mean, I have a degree in Hospitality Management for Christ’s sake!
And most importantly, the fact that I'm really. fucking. happy.
The more I try, the less I know.