The busboy in this restaurant
was not like the average Denny’s or I-hop,
where a boy wears a dirty apron,
takes off the dirty dishes and trash
throws ‘em into a greasy bus tub.
and wipes the table.
No, this was no Salvation Army;
this was a restaurant, a real one,
where people sent six hundred dollars
on a bottle of wine
and leave half of it
for the waiters and dishwashers to drink.
Here the busboy wore a tux,
and catered the table.
He wasn’t even called busboy,
but server assistant.
He had to interact
with these rich powerful sharp tongued people.
He brought the food from kitchen to table.
This was not a job
for a homeless street wise hybrid kid.
No, I’d come in through the back door
from the alley.
I washed the dishes.
I ate and drank the aftermath of their feasts;
I consumed their waste.
It was no different
than hitting them up for a dollar
as they walked down the street to their car,
or, waited for a taxi;
however, the money was more consistent,
I always had food.
I didn’t even have to talk to,
nor even see ‘em.
My first day,
had been the very same day
I ‘d walked in from the street,
homeless, hungry and ill-bathed.
She fed me two bowls of something
inquired when I could start working.
She probably already knew.
I glanced about the place,
observing the waiters walking in,
saying greetings to each other.
I didn’t fully understood
what having a job entailed,
or even what a job was.
All I knew,
it was something
to do in a white-man’s world
to get money
to live, eat, survive, and exist.
Whatever word you used
it meant the same thing:
That’s what my father called it.
One day he just refused to do it anymore.
He lied to, cheated and stole from ‘em;
he’d go to their bars,
get drunk off their liquor and beat ‘em up.
Sometimes he’d not come home for days,
spending a few of those days in the county pin.
Cops forever came by the house
questing for him
about something he’d done.
They’d attack my drawers rummaging for him,
then plow under the bed for tractors.
If this was the only other way
around the job/slavery thing,
the ending outcome seemed worse.
So I chose the former,
at least they didn’t come to your home,
spawn a mess
and haul you away in the back of a car
with no door handles,
your hands numb from the cuffs.
“When can you work?” She quizzed me.
“Then get up.”
As we walked through the stainless steel door,
She held my hand.
I was quiet.