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Flash Fiction: Hospitality

Today's post for Three Word Wednesday is based on my experiences in the restaurant business. Be sure to visit other Three Word Wednesday participants or write your own story and join the fun!

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Old, he thought as he pored over the evening's receipts. From his spot at the back of the restaurant he could see everything that happened in the dining room. At this late hour, it was critical to keep an eye on things or the wait staff would get lax.

Had Carlos gone into a different line of work, he would've been considered in his prime. Among the business lunch crowd, men his age wore suits, talked finance, and were treated with respect, but a forty year-old restaurant manager was over the hill, out of touch.

Carlos knew things, though, that the young waiters didn't yet understand. He could see their dangerous trajectories, the inevitable outcome of the wild behaviors that might wreck their lives before they had a chance to really live.

Sometimes he wanted to warn them away from the drugs, tell them to cut back on the booze and the parties, and finish their education. He knew they wouldn't listen, though, and there was no point in trying to bubble-wrap them. They would have to find out as he had that the party was on borrowed time.

Carlos gulped the last of his cold coffee and got to his feet. The final customer had gone and it was time to close up shop. He lumbered toward the door, past the waiters flirting with the pretty bartender, and resigned himself to feeling fat, outdated and unwanted. Well, if those young turks survived the hazards of youth, recklessness and too much ready cash, they would some day be as he was now. Then they would understand, and maybe look back on him with a little sympathy.

The bartender giggled at something and one of the waiters made a cryptic remark about a "friend" who could "set them up."

Carlos shook his head but didn't judge. "Hurry up with those checkouts," he called. "I don't want to be here all night."

With any luck, he'd get out in enough time to go to a late-night AA meeting. There among his own kind, he would be understood.

5 comments:

oldegg said...

I would imagine your whole outlook would change when drink was out of your life. Then there is the hopelessness of giving advice to people that were just like you once were, nobody is going to listen just because you couldn't handle it. It is hard enough living your own life without handing out advice to everyone. Insightful piece.

January 26, 2012 at 4:38 AM
jaerose said...

What a wonderful character portrait..sad..and yet I admire him..and hope that he shares what he knows..and has learnt..in a more hospitable environment..forty also leaves many years left to lift yourself up...wonderful flash..Jae

January 26, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Alice Audrey said...

I knew a guy living just like this about twenty years ago. He was a very warm, gregarious kind of guy who ended up in telemarketing.

January 26, 2012 at 3:31 PM
Sheilagh Lee said...

sometimes people who have seen life lived life are the most interesting those young people don't know the stories they are missing but not talking to him and listening to him.Great story.

January 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM
Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I just finished writing something for this week's 3WW and ... man, Ann. We're on the same wavelength again.

February 1, 2012 at 12:22 PM