I might give off the vibe that I'm busting my tail and moving up the ranks in my new UCLA gig, but I spend most of my hours busing tables, tending to the drunk, and falling on my face.
At 11pm the kitchen closes. In typical Kornet fashion, a table for two walked in right at 10:55pm.
I quickly placed their order for 3 plates of fish tacos and 3 plates of shishito peppers. They were hungry.
Our food runner takes off at 11pm too, so it was my job to run down to the kitchen and bring the food up.
I totally forgot.
30 minutes had passed, and I started questioning whether or not the chefs were out on the pier catching the fish themselves.
Trying my best to curb the appetites of two hangry men, I never let their gin & tonics go dropless.
Saved by the bell, the phone rang.
It was Chef.
He was not a happy camper. The tacos had been under the warmer for some time.
And Nicole, the food runner, was nowhere to be found.
I sprinted down the stairs and saw the food sitting there. After a few exchanges of unfriendly glares from Chef 1 and Chef 2, I apologized and grabbed the piping hot plates. I could feel the third degree burns bubbling my skin. Chef 1 and Chef 2 weren't about to help me find a tray either. By the time I turned around to ask for one, they were already out the door.
Time was of the essence. Two men full of testosterone were upstairs waiting on me.
I clinched the plates, peeled the corner, then bit it.
The floors were wet and my rubbery-soled Vans weren't up for the challenge. The chefs had just mopped and the lights were dim. It was 11pm and everyone was gone.
I landed straight on my elbow. I thought I shattered it. I pride myself on never breaking a bone, and there I was, laying on a wet, kitchen floor with a plate full of piping hot fish tacos, broken glass, and newfound sprinkles of fresh blood staining what had been my 23-year break-free bone streak.
(I didn't shatter it. Boo-yah.)
I somehow managed to salvage 2 out of 3 fish taco plates mid-fall. I dusted off the slaw, wiped my tears, and brought the remains to the table of two on the patio.
Now I know what you're thinking...
"Why are you sitting here wasting your time writing this blog when you can be in court filing a lawsuit worth millions???"
There was a wet floor sign.
I was just too concentrated on my boiling flesh that was frying from fish at the time to see it.
There was a "caution hot plate" sign for that too.
I don't say all of this for your pity, because if I were to do that I would have mentioned the fact that I got pulled over on my way to pick up a paycheck from UCLA earlier that morning.
Apparently I crossed a double yellow line while turning left and the cop decided to dish out a $400 ticket for "driving on the wrong side of the road."
When it rains, it pours.
Daniel Powder put it best, I had a bad day.
Being an ex-student-athlete, at that moment, as I laid there on the cold, dark, dank Marriott kitchen floor, it hit me.
Real-life is hard.
I don't want to be a waitress forever. In fact, I never wanted to be one to begin with.
But it's through this job that I've seemed to learn the most.
One of my coworkers was recently fired. He is a father, a husband, and the sole provider for his family.
Another one of my coworkers was carrying a glass water jug to refill for the guests. As he was carrying it over to the sink it slipped and sliced his hand open. He can't feel several of his fingers now because he didn't get to the ER on time. The ER, where he had to pay out of pocket, because he doesn't have insurance.
I've learned so much amongst my peers here in Southern California. I love these guys. I've never seen a group of such diligent, hard workers, and I had been a student-athlete at one of the most prestigious schools in the world.
I don't plan on staying long at the Marriott. In fact, with season starting up, my hours will now be going the other way, and UCLA is where most of my time will reside.
But I won't ever forget what I learned being at Le Merigot on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California.
Be proud of where you came from. Be proud of who you are. Who cares if you're a waitress? Who cares if you're still trying to figure it all out?
If you're 43, or 23.
As long as you have health insurance........
The real-world is hard. I get it now. I no longer get the perks of being a student-athlete, but despite the world being hard, it doesn't mean I should be ashamed.
Not everything is as it seems.
People struggle. And as cliché as it sounds, there is so much beauty in the struggle. So much growth in the struggle.
People relate to struggle. We all do.
Real-life and real people resonate.
Even your favorite, superhuman NBA idols struggle. Once you truly get to know a person, a group, a team, or an organization everything becomes much more relatable.
I had the biggest crush in the world on John-Paul Malham.
But John-Paul Malham had the biggest crush in the world on Madison Austin.
In seventh grade he kissed her after school. I was crushed. Devastated. Destroyed.
I looked like this in seventh grade.
Madison Austin looked like this.
Fifteen years later, and that little Coley hasn't changed a bit. I've always been such a tomboy. Always have and always will be. I prefer throwing bombs to the boys at recess instead of ooo'ing and ahh'ing at those who do.
My mom deserves so much of the credit.
Not for the athletic ability per se, but for the confidence she instilled in me.
Don't get me wrong, my father taught me the hog-nasty basketball confidence, but my mom taught me how to be confident in who I am as a person.
She told me it was okay to wear the boy's t-shirt from Old Navy with the dogs on the front.
She told me it was okay to want do-rags for Christmas so I can look like Allen Iverson.
She told me it was okay to be who I am.
I have permission to be imperfect.
I'm a fairly shallow person. Well, here's the thing-- I'm obsessed with pretty people. I stumble into these beautiful LA mothers and their just as naturally beautiful children and I crave the same for myself one day.
But my mom didn't care. She never let me feel like I wasn't pretty enough. She loved me for who I was. And she told me I was beautiful the way I was every single day.
Kids go in and out of phases, and my mom knew that. She knew that one day I'd want to go to homecoming and pick out a dress. She knew that one day I'd want to take a shower. She knew that one day I'd grow up.
Yeah, I did want to look like Madison Austin. I did want to be the one that everyone fawned over, but there's nothing more satisfying than being who you are, owning it, living it, accepting it, and being proud of it.
I work at the Marriott. I have pimples. And I love who I am.