Posed to retired aviator: what was standard operating procedure if the plane landed in the water the wrong side up? A: hit the eject. Attendant pulled forward silverware tub, heard rumbling of its cutlery within. Attendant bemoaned oversight which would likely result in effective pay reduction. Customer indicated that everyone could learn math, which was a mere generalization of a mental operation we perform every day. Attendant supposed that just because everyone could understand what’s ordinary didn’t mean they could understand its “generalization”. Customer, a soccer coach, spoke of calling the girl soccer players to tell them they’d not made the cut.

……….Front stool window, left

……….Back table, a lamp

……….Back revolving chair (the first)

……….Tiled wall (over sandwich station)

……….Tall trash can (on carpet)

……….Second, third table (empty)

……….Top of stairs (the railing)

young nursing student from pacific NW (these days an er nurse) quietly rapt in the laptop studying, “such extraordinary concentration displayed by so many of the customers” it is thought. the idea that the ‘distracted’ person is Aristotle’s “slave by nature” — that it kind of makes sense that it would be me who is serving her, who can remain so still before her study materials. Me like a blurry object before my study materials. (Could he stop now?) When had the attendant last been so still? so free and still as this person appeared to be when concentrating? Could he yet make himself concentrate? Was it too late? Did it explain his continued presence in this place that he hadn’t been paying attention? hadn’t been focusing? Were he suddenly to completely concentrate on his work, would the work disappear, would he attain the next level?

Idea that DFW seems to have something like this ethical system in mind with his two novels: Pale King in which concentration is the great virtue, IJ in which distraction is the main fault? (Customer not so sure about that.)

“Unsheathed” trash can looking especially tall as it stands on the carpet. (And yet it is the trash can with the trash bag that should be understood as “unsheathed”.) the second and third table are empty between the first and fourth table, which are occupied. I have just checked these tables’ bases for the appearance of trash and the presence of crumbs. I gave the tiled wall above the sandwich station a good cleaning the other day an am pleased to see that still shows.

Customer spoke of a prominent political blogger who had recently retired. Attendant recalled former customer who liked that blogger, became unhappy with the place. Attendant moved back and forth behind the bar, cleaning; customer moved back and forth, on bar’s other side, speaking to attendant. Customer said she would be leaving in a moment. Customer said he doubted Shakespeare ever mentioned ‘America’ but probably made some reference to ‘the Americas.’ Customer ordered medium coffee. Child of customer revolved on first of two swivel chairs. Child of customer emptied coffee beans from Malaysia on the ground. When child of customer emptied Malaysian coffee beans on the ground, customer said angrily “alright!” then left with child. When child of customer emptied coffee beans on the ground, customer apologized to attendant for child, asked what they should pay. Electronic chime above door sounded: had a customer entered or had a customer departed (a customer had left.) Electronic chime above door sounded: but attendant would not turn his head like some Pavlovian beast! he defensively, defiantly retorted, loud in his interior. He refused, absolutely refused! (He accepted, absolutely accepted. Needed to know. Needed to know what.) What could it matter? What difference could it make? Am going to train my gaze, rather, on this dish I’m cleaning, said the attendant to his soul, jaws defiantly clear of all moisture. Jaws locked and gazed locked and hand upon sponge, he insisted, not like some Pavlovian beast. (Who? Who?)


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