I punch out. It’s bitter cold as I step outside. I can see my breath. The condensation on the windows obscures a warm light that issues from the glass, suggestive of the warmth and conviviality within. Green and red stains cover my grey shirt and blue jeans from top to bottom. Laughter and bright faces, food and money, echo in my senses, a contrast to the darkness and quietude of the outside air, as I repeat my midnight walk to my car after working at Frita Batidos.
Food service is a two-faced profession. In the front-of-house, where our guests sit and we serve, yuppies of Ann Arbor enjoy casual, high-end dining. Students, professors, doctors, and hipsters pour disposable income into our register, which takes in around four thousand dollars during a Friday night dinner rush. Behind two steel, swinging doors, between stainless steel coolers and concrete walls, a crew of Mexican immigrants work sixteen hour days alongside prematurely aged men and women.
“Check those pick up orders,” Eve screams, her voice fading abruptly into laughter and upbeat indie music. “Dan!” I call over evening din, a smile on my face and a nod upon recognition, as prescribed by the Runner Protocol. I am the bridge between bright steel and candle-lit laughter, between brutal work and carefree enjoyment. I drop off the churros. “Enjoy!” The next day, Dan waves to me as I walk up the street in a fresh grey shirt and blue jeans. I punch in.