You work at a restaurant for a few days, walking around and overhearing the private, intimate, low-spoken conversations of guests from all over the world, and you’ll eventually find yourself—as I do now—soaked in a pseudo-philosophical mood about, like, “Oh, other people, their lives…”
You see elderly couples sitting side-by-side rather than across from each other, just eating together, saying nothing. Middle-aged people on first dates. Big families having parties. Older parents with their adult children. There’s a wealthy-looking man with a silver pompadour who comes in several times a week—each time with a different twentysomething young man whom he touches more and more as the evening progresses.
You hear this and that about people’s problems. Bits and pieces. During downtime you talk with colleagues about the newborn baby, the adulterous friend, the sick dog, the unloving father, the boyfriend who’s gaining a ton of weight, the incredible weed, the new workout regimen. Nothing about politics except a mournful mention of Mexican tariffs, and how they’ve influenced the price of tequila.
The vicissitudes of life, I guess. You can get high off of it, watching people’s intimate stories flash by in snippets, like a film strip in which each frame is from a different movie.
Gets you thinking differently about your own situation and self. The way that, for all of the drama and import and expanse of your problems….
there’s always also the smallness of them.