I’m a bartender and server at a restaurant. What I really aspire to be is a published author, writing both novels and short stories. I have known this for a long time; even before I made it a conscious effort to do so. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to stop slacking and make an actual effort at it. After a period of time, serving tables diminishes ones self worth. Those who say otherwise have become blighted by either the money that they make or the fact that they aren’t going to be anything else. The term “server” itself provokes images of one who is obedient to another, providing some item to either amuse or satiate the “master” (since a server does what ever is asked for by any guest who comes to the restaurant).
From the moment that I put on my apron and step into that building which constantly smells like a bonfire, a smell which at first I enjoyed but overtime have come to despise as it saturates my clothes and engulfs my room back at home, I am depressed. I understand that serving tables is a profession for some. One can even make enough money to support a family. I do not wish to completely degrade a job which has kept me on my feet and is a position for so many people that I have come to meet and call my friend. But it is not the life I want to live, not anymore at least. It has served it’s purpose and it is time for me to actually get a career.
There are people like me, who are veritably miserable with their current state, no matter what field of work they may find themselves in. Then there are people like Roger. Roger is the dishwasher at work and he has been just that since the restaurant opened over 5 years ago. Most days Roger is as happy as a nail in a hammer factory. I just couldn’t understand it for a long time. How can someone wash dishes for a living and still be happy? I’m not only making more money than Roger but my job is somewhat less excruciating (besides the inevitable annoying guests that servers deal with on a daily basis) and I’m the one who is never happy.
Roger, to me, is Sisyphus. A man in Greek mythology, who Camus is famous for discussing. He is punished by the gods to push a boulder up a mountain only to have it come back down once he has reached the top and he must continually do so for all eternity. Camus says, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
Roger pushes his boulder up a mountain each and every day he comes to work to wash dishes and he is happy to do so. He accomplishes his goal by the end of each day. I wonder to myself if Roger ever actually thinks that he could have been otherwise in his life. But the point is that it does not matter. No matter what you do in this life, we all end up pushing our own boulder up the mountain only to do it again the next day. People like Roger give me hope. If he can be happy washing dishes, then I can be happy with whatever it is that I do in my life, even if it is serving tables while I pursue the profession which I so hope for. We MUST imagine Sisyphus happy because he is everyone. Because he is you and I. He’s your favorite celebrity, he’s the president of the U.S. and he’s the homeless man living in your town.
It does not matter what you are in this life. We all perish and turn to dust in the end. In death, Roger is of the same merit as Shakespeare or Gandhi. And so are you. Time erases everything, even those things and people that we consider most valuable. In a billion years none of this will ever matter. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make the most out of your life. Be the best person that you can in this life no matter what it is that you do.