I force myself to smile... a big, toothy grin with which I try to convey eagerness, earnestness and friendliness. The right smile is important to me because customers who feel cared for order more food and booze... and leave more tips. The right smile ensures that my drunk, frustrated customers don’t try to prove their manhood by starting a fight with the one guy they think they can lord it over – Me.
The right smile is important to me because my life is exhausting and empty; a token existence in maximum city. Without that smile, I don't think I could get out of bed and face the world.
I'm a waiter in a restaurant in Mumbai. My smile is what could separate me from the other waiters and from the sea of humanity that washes through the doors of my workplace. In this city, it is very easy to become jaded and cynical. It is even easier to avoid having facial expressions. We’re all so tired you see, so why waste energy feeling anything or showing what we feel? Daily I see people, bent wearily over their drinks. I hear them, talking about their problems, failures and rarely, their successes. I think about their self-involvement and wonder if they notice anyone besides themselves and their lamentations.
My eyes are weak and I wear thick, unfashionable glasses. Even without them, I'd be able to see more than my customers.
A few rare regulars know me and take the time to say hello and enquire about my well-being. I don’t say much, but this is where the practice from every morning pays off. They think they’re making a connection and I think... that I’ll say whatever it takes to keep the orders coming in.
No matter what happens, I smile. I have to.
Song for the moment: Quiet Volcano - Artie Tatum