I ripped off my apron and slammed it on the greasy counter, someone’s coffee caught the brunt of it as one of the ties splashed right into the cup.
I was sick and tired of waiting on customers who had only two things on their mind, their stomachs and their wallets.
I guess that’s true for most of us but when you make less than three dollars an hour on a waitress wage, you expect the tips to make up for it. And the thing is, we get awesome reviews on all the foodie website platforms, from the meatloaf to the service and even to our “world's best apple pie” which if you ask me, just might be. But where are my tips? Still in the pockets of the very satisfied customer.
I waved at the cook in his grimy white t-shirt with yellow stained armpits as I strutted out the door, the smell of bacon and toast wafting after me. He winked back, knowing I was got to that place in my life where I knew it was time to move on. And move on, I did.
It was still early enough in the day for caffeine, anything past noon and I’ll never get to sleep before the clock strikes midnight. I stopped at my favorite bookstore, which happens to be on my way home, and happens to serve the best coffee, even better than the diner, believe it or not. I had all the time in the world now that I didn’t have a job, right? This was a place where they knew me on a first name basis. Some of my regular diner customers couldn’t even remember it and I wore a gigantic name tag in big bold letters.
“Fig! Welcome! It’s been a few days!”
Has it? I must have been distracted.
“Hey Gail! What’s the word?”
“Well funny you should ask,” she looked away as if a difficult question was about to escape her mouth.
“I need a favor from you.”
“From me?” Moi? Of all people? Here it comes. I don’t mind doing favors, especially for any employee of my favorite place in the entire universe.
“Sure, how can I help?”
“Madame Madeline, our psychic reader, she quit today. She is moving back to Chicago to be with her family. She said it was urgent and POOF! Gone! Boy, she wasn’t kidding!”
“Awe I’m sorry to hear that, Gail. I’ve heard great things about her!” I really did, too. She gave me a great reading once. As a matter of fact ...
Gail fiddled with the amethyst pendant that dangled just between her collarbones.
“I want you to take over.”
“Take over, what.. what do you mean?”
“Being our psychic reader. You keep all the profits, plus a thirty percent discount on all books and magazines in the store. We made no money from her in the past, other than the fact she drew in a lot of customers.”
How do I pass up thirty percent off on books and magazines? Especially since I’m broker than flat broke now. Priorities.
“Gail, I appreciate you thinking about me but I don’t know if I’m your girl.”
“You are. And I know it because she handed this to me before she left. She said make sure you get it, or else.”
She handed me a siky purple bag with a drawstring, filled with what felt like a deck of playing cards.
“Or else, what?” My voice went so high pitched that I was afraid it might not come back down from the rafters.
“I’m not sure, nor do I want to find out. Want a coffee?” She was already headed to the coffee counter.
“Yes please,” several would be great! “My usual, to go.”
As the hot steamy beverage filled the void of the cup, I yearned for the right answer to fill the void in my brain. I needed a job. I needed the money.
“Okay, I’ll do it!” I said, startling Gail as she handed me the Joe.
“It’s on the house. Another PERK! See what I did there?”
A weak smile parted my lips as I took that inviting, delectable, amazing, energizing (you get where I’m going with this) first sip.
“Yep, so I’ll see you tomorrow at what time?”
“You come whenever is convenient for you, dear. You get to set your own schedule, your own prices, and we will take care of the advertising. The clients come in at a steady stream so no worries there!”
I stood staring at the unfamiliar satiny sack in my hands. It felt like I was holding a hot potato and I should be tossing it back and forth so it doesn’t burn my delicate former waitress hands.
“Fig? Fig! Are you ok?”
I must have spaced out for a second, or eight.
“Yep! Hey yeah! I’ll see ya tomorrow! Thanks again!”
Haha thanks for what, exactly?
I basically ran back to my apartment, dodging baby strollers and fire hydrants and the mailman. Actually, I did practically knock him over and he smiled and waved, probably relieved that I wasn’t a vicious snarling dog. Luckily for him, I just had my coffee.
I undid the pretty little bow tie that cinched the bag closed and slid the cards out. Indeed, they were cards, but colorful and vibrant and weirdly magical looking. All 78 of them. I counted as I inspected and admired each one. The Fool, The Hermit, the Devil, Death. DEATH?! What kind of dark cult centered card game is this? Didn’t she say psychic reader?
Wait, could these be…
The Fool is the first card…zero… it looks like he’s going somewhere, on an adventure maybe? His bag is packed and he’s ready to go...
The next one is The Magician, he has one hand pointing up and the other pointing down. There are tools in front of him on a table, a sword, a chalice, a big gold coin, a wooden wand. An infinity symbol floats above his head… infinite wisdom? Will power? Tools of the trade?
When I pulled the third card in the line-up, The High Priestess, it took my breath away. This card. A beautiful womanly figure sitting in a high back throne made of stone, surrounded by vines and juicy pomegranates. A scroll sits on her lap, a full moon on her crown and a cross upon her chest. She looks like she has the answers to anything and everything, secrets, yet she won’t tell a single soul.
That’s it! This is the one Madame Madeline once told me would become extremely significant in my life. But what exactly did she say? My memory sucked something fierce. Maybe another cup of coffee would help? Doubtful. I really needed to cut back. Maybe I’ll try decaf someday. Yeah, someday.
I closed my eyes as I held the card between my shaking thumb and forefinger. Definitely too much caffeine. Caffeine!! That’s it!
I think it went something like this:
“You have a talent, one not yet known to you, one that will become apparent when the time is right, and ONLY when the time is right. It is your karma. You will understand once you meet that moment. Oh and honey, lay off the caffeine!”
I remember I laughed at her and she smiled back.
This IS my moment of karma. My time of transformation and growth and I can NOT pass it up. Caffeine or no caffeine.