Monday, May 19, 2008

Graveyard Shift

DSC_0186.JPG, originally uploaded by boxersiciliano.

I worked a graveyard shift out of high school at a diner called The Penguin in Santa Monica. It had a very large penguin on a very tall pole outside the restaurant and it was on the corner of Olympic and LIncoln, right off the 10 fwy...yeah..I was a soda jerk through the night, but eventually worked my way up to waiter. I was 18 years old. I remember I had to wear one of those 50's paper hats and I worked behind my first "bar" if you will, but there was no booze, just 4 large milkshake blenders and I used to turn those things out like no tomorrow...Black Cows, Vanilla Shakes, Chocolate, you name it I made it...and at 2 am it was wall to wall people without room to walk or move. I guess LA always had the late night side pretty well handled. I remember eating my shift meal, usually around 4 am when things slowed down a bit and some of the regulars were there...usually Highway Patrol, other graveyard shifters, or really early risers...we served everything all the time so wether you were eating breakfast or dinner, you could do it whenever you wanted. I always had eggs and toast, because it was safe...that kitchen was not the healthiest for sure, but I do remember the was always super crispy and Rigo the chef, an old gnarled dude who had tatoos and a permanent sneer, would serve me up an extra portion. Rigo and I didn't talk much, but I always helped him take out the kitchen mats and I think he liked me for that. Audra was the cute "older" waitress and Patrick was a rotund guy, probably in his early 20's but a deceivingly powerful black belt in karate..or so he said, but I believed him because he was always so calm and at those hours you deal with a lot of drunks and wierdos and he always managed to kick them out with grace and style. After a hard night of slinging milkshakes and usually making decent cash, i would eat my 2 eggs, hashbrowns and toast and by 6 am I was out the door, heading home to my dad's house where I always remember, he'd be leaving for work and I'd be going to 7 am....The graveyard shift...

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