It is strange, this viewpoint from the invisible restaurant worker.
Since current events have shook up my life, I haven’t been the nicest or most responsive person. So I’m currently helping out at a friend’s restaurant in the Mission District of San Francisco because chopping parsley is much more therapeutic than working at a job in which I actually have to wake up and give a shit. Between the monumental task of giving a rat’s ass to get up in the morning and the defeated duty of living as if it had any meaning; life has turned into a dispassionate existence as best described by Hyperbole and a Half’s excellent dissertation on depression.
But this week is different.
It’s Gay Pride Weekend in San Francisco.
You see, with the latest fervor over the Supreme Court’s decision on CA’s Proposition 8 and DOMA, there are more people in town to celebrate. New Yorkers, Illinois-ians, Virginia-ans, Floridians, a lot of Southerners…
And with the days unusually warm and sunny, these tourists have been roaming 24th Street in happy Gay Pride colors (I didn’t even know Banana Republic made that many t-shirts in pastels) and joyfully licking scoops of Humphrey Slocombe’s bourbon and corkflaked ice cream.
Couples walk into our restaurant, and since I’m slyly behind the counter, I get to watch them giggle and point to items on the menu, ask “What’s in the Banh Mi sausage?”, and sit with a couple of beers while waiting for their food to cook. I watch them sometimes canoodle or bicker or share a huge laugh. Sometimes they take a free multi-colored chocolate that my friend had put out to celebrate Gay Pride Weekend. Sometimes they tip $10 on $50 worth of take out, sometimes they don’t.
But the mood is festive. After one shift, I had joined a friend for karaoke-ing at El Rio because- well she wanted me to get out of the house and stop being such a sourpuss deadweight. At the bar, one woman serenaded her partner -complete with friends as back up dancers!- and then brought out a ring and proposed to her soon-to-be-wife. Tears of joy! Ostentatious displays of affection!
And as my customers take that free chocolate, or they walk eating their high-priced fancy ice-cream, or gather their friends to watch them do a live proposal… there is an electricity of hope in the air that’s enough to make your hair frizz.
And I now see why so many people have flocked to San Francisco for so many years. It’s just a ‘safe-er’ place… to be yourself, to be openly gay, to be openly in love, to have a crappy partner and to yell and scream at them in the parking lot… like any other couple across the United States.
Of course I’m still fearful: will there be an act of terrorism? Will something else be held up in court? Will so many people puke from all the festivities that my beloved BART and MUNI will smell of vomit and have sticky floors for the next 2 weeks?
But for this day…. even in my dark and miserably cloudy disposition, I get to see lots of couples celebrate mundane acts of love -ice cream, walking down the street, buying an artisan sausage with fries, karaoke-ing badly- and I am happy to be alive to witness this…