It’s 11:35 on a rainy day, so there was little foot traffic at the mall. Though not many shoppers, the business buildings nearby had begun to unleash their hungry throngs, the regulars who keep this eatery afloat. Our restaurant’s generous portion of expansive windows weren’t their usual billboards that entice diners inside. They couldn’t gather the perpetual sunshine for southern CA to illuminate our space.

The atmospherically dim interior of the cavernous interior, created by a quirky designer, sported an extra layer of gloom. Our regulars, who know to be here before the noon rush, have resorted to iPhone flashlights to read the menu. As if they’d spy, and then order, something new.

There’s a mystery woman seated in the center of the gigantic room, but she’s facing the rear, and is behind a wall intended to decoratively partition the loft-like space and provide backdrop to the bar. Why she’s seated herself thus strikes me as dubious, contrarian. Her presence lurks as a spectre, a harbringer of interactions she cannot face, maybe the world and its gray horrors and fates. She, too, is intent on her phone, idly sipped a cappuccino. She’s in her own fantasy space.

I know because her eyes glazed as soon as I seated her back there, a move that single women with long blonde hair seldom make.

Though I’m only a restaurant hostess now, as I soon as I complete the course, I’ll bartend. I’m practicing my people-reading skills, and I plan to excel. Tips will be on the line.

Enter a short blonde chick intent on being perky despite the wreck the wind has made of her hair. She approaches my desk swiftly with an eager-to-please aire, breathing shallow, but trying for deep. She states she’s a bit late and looking for another blonde with whom she’s to lunch. She pleaded for assistance.

My best self wanted to help the nice lady. Another self sounded an alarm. Despite a stated appointment, was the other woman suitable company for this true heart? I felt it my duty to keep her safe from the malfeasance foreshadowed by the other.

I steered her at a tabletop for two near my station, so she could focus on watching the door. A sentinel.

And so I could watch her back, while whatever was about to unfold, occurred in an altered way.

I’m going to gifted and talented as a bartender. It’s all about the tips.