1. You start at the bottom.
2. But beg for the job nonetheless.
3. To bussers and dishwashers, the waitstaff are the stars of the restaurant.
4. The kitchen’s always spying on the floor.
5. And waitstaff gets punished for the kitchen’s blunders.
6. Everyone knows the entire sexual biographies of their coworkers—
7. —As well their hopes and insecurities—
8. —Professional stress, and drug habits.
9. Brunch shifts are a nightmare.
10. The growth of kitchen filth deserves its own Newtonian law.
11. Waitress’ perk: eating beyond your means.
12. This is your dispersion tactic at closing hour:
13. And at closing time:
14. Being promoted to waiter/waitress at a prime hour is a momentous occasion.
Mimi Pond’s ‘Over Easy’ is as much about kitchen zen as it is about coming of age in the 70’s. In this fictionalized comic memoir, Mimi’s alter ego drops out of art school and works for the eccentric proprietor of an Oakland diner. A lot of our pop culture elegizes 70’s free love and mellowness, but Mimi (being somewhat spiritually East Coast) finds herself ill at ease among the her generation’s Daisy Deadheads and macrobiotic hug-lords. She feels much more at home among the Imperial Cafe’s gruff, hard-drinking staff.
The comic does not at all glamorize restaurant work life, but it does show how service jobs in neighborhood spots once brought you into the warm fold of a community, where turnover was more languid, people remembered your names and earnestly dole out life advice. There’s a tactile thrill to reading about the down and dirty of 70’s kitchen life that makes me want to abandon my computer forever.
Mimi Pond wrote the first episode of ‘The Simpsons,’ as well as several episodes of ‘Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.’ She’s been a staff cartoonist for Los Angeles Times, Village Voice and Seventeen. She also inspired Mike Judge’s cartooning:
The book comes out with Drawn & Quarterly on April 15. By the way, the Imperial Cafe is still open as Mama’s Royal in Oakland.