House Calls: Why I Thru-Hike
“Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Alexander Supertramp
Being in the restaurant industry as long as I have, it is quite often that I fantasize about how I’d quit my job. Not all the time, but like when things get really bad. I’ve always imagined it going down in the middle of a Saturday night rush. We are slammin’ busy, the music is rockin’, and the lights are dim. We are all running around like crazy, but I’ve got a full section plus half of another guy’s who was supposed to show up but his grandma has died for the third time this year, and I have to be a team player.
Per usual, there are a million things working against me.
I’ve just been yelled at because the guy at table two’s steak is medium and not medium rare, plus someone wants the AC turned up, another wants it turned down, I’ve spilled sauce on my white shirt already, the kids at Table Four just knocked over their sodas… again, and I’m pretty sure the Karen at my table in the corner is already on Yelp. I can barely hear myself think. The sound of pots and pans clanking in the dish pit, the screaming children, and the indistinct chatter of the 30 guests in my section rattle my brain like I just went a few rounds with Tyson.
And just like clockwork, coming from God knows where, my manager stops me. “Just so you know, we are 86’d calamari tonight.” I can feel my face turn red and my blood start to boil.
“For Christ’s sake, Terry!”
“I put three orders of calamari in over 20 minutes ago and I’ve got two more orders right here. How am I just now hearing about this?”
Terry doesn’t care, nor is it his problem. He’s too busy flirting with the new hostess. This has happened to me too many times before. It will happen again tomorrow and probably the day after that. I just can’t take it any longer. Without saying a word, I untie my apron and start heading for the door.
“Where are you going?”
“Your shift isn’t over yet and you just got sat an eight-top that’s two adults, six toddlers, and they all have gluten allergies. Oh, and by the way, they’re in a rush.”
I look Terry straight in the eyes. “I’m not doing this tonight… In fact, I’m never doing this again.”
He doesn’t know what to say, he just stands there.
The bartender overhears this interaction. We go way back, so he starts pouring me a drink. Double Maker’s Mark. Neat. He knows it’s my favorite and runs it over to me. I slam it in an instant.
I throw the empty glass over my shoulder and walk straight out the front door as the glass shatters. The sound of applause and cheers fades as walk through the door. I’m outside. It’s finally quiet.
Now back to reality.
I think this is how it’s going to go every time I get to quit my job. It would be oh-so-satisfying. It never does, though. I give my two weeks’ notice like every other law-abiding citizen. But it is a nice, wistful thought I play over in my head to help get me through the bad days. I’ve always got a plan. There’s always another thru-hike or bike ride or some sort of adventure waiting for me in the distance. That’s what keeps me going, and I guess that’s why I do what I do. Every time I head out into the woods it’s the same feeling. The glass has shattered. The chaos of life has settled. I’m outside. It’s finally quiet.
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