"Hey," Abel places his hand on my shoulder. "Thanks so much for filling in tonight, Chloe rung a few hours ago to say she came down with this sickness bug. But I'm sure she's just hungover."
I shake my head at him as I pick up an ice bucket and a bottle of wine. "Don't worry about it, I need the extra pay anyway so is a bit of a silver lining."
Abel forces a smile and looks behind me at the kitchen heater. "I'm just hoping it won't be too busy tonight, Thursdays rarely are."
My head nods towards him once as I take off with the bucket and head for the furthest table across the room. Placing the ice on the stand next to the two customers. "Sonoma Valley," I say loudly.
I reach for the bottle and crack the lid open. "Would you guys like to try it first?" I ask.
The female shakes her head before fluttering her hand, dismissing me. My lips shake in attempt to keep smiling instead of shouting what my mind wanted to say. "Enjoy," I push out as professionally as I can.
Waltzing across the dining room floor and weaving through the customers and servers, Abel taps me and points behind me. "Can you serve that gentleman?" He asks as I wiz my head around in the direction.
"He's a friend of Marco's from years ago," he continues. "I've got to cover the back tables but I'll help you where I can."
"Okay," I manage to say before he walks quickly to the back of the room.
My eyes keep a look out for Marco's friend as I look between the chairs. Drawn instantly to a man sat with a three piece suit and a thick gold watch. I take long steps towards his table noticing that he was currently dining alone. My feet stop sharp just before his table and my eyes take a closer look at his appearance.
Admiring every little detail of his outfit that screamed he was a millionaire and not afraid to show it. His beard was trimmed neatly short stubbly but his hair was a complete mess, it's like he'd hired a personal shopper but fired his hairdresser.
It looked good, in an extremely dysfunctional way. "Good evening sir," I clear my throat to get his attention. "What can I get for you to drink?"
His dark eyes flick to mine effortlessly as I stand there with my hands behind my back. "Good evening," he responds, his voice thick and raspy. He looks back down to the menu in his hands. "I'll have a glass of the red Rioja Alavesa."
"Of course sir, right away," I nod towards him.
It takes only a couple of minutes to have his drink on a serving board and straight over to his table. "Your Rioja Alavesa,"
"Thank you," he says which completely catches me by surprise.
"Are you ready to order?"
He hums as he runs his thumb down his lip, his eyes glance up and down the menu like he had no idea what to order. "What do you recommend?" He asks as he straightens out his cufflinks and leans down onto his forearms.
He stares back at me with warm eyes and I almost didn't know where to look, so instead I awkwardly swing the serving board behind my back again and quickly look down. "Well I'd definitely recommend the lobster if you are a seafood kind of man but I also love the strozzapreti with courgette and goats curd if you're looking for something vegetarian. But if you want something more meaty, we do amazing steaks with blue cheese sauce."
After realising how fast I spoke, I open my mouth to shut it instantly again. My face becoming hot, feeling blood rush to my cheeks.
He smiles as he glances back down to the menu, clearly amused at something which only made me feel more anxious about the situation. "I like it," he says after a few moments. "Giving me the best of both worlds."
I shuffle between my feet and instantly stop when I realise what I am doing. "So what would you like to order?"
He closes the menu with one hand and flattens it out onto the table. "I'll have the strozzapreti with courgette please,"
"Right away sir,"
My feet hurry away before I want to bury myself under the ground for being so easily embarrassed. Abel grabs some plates by the kitchen and catches my attention. "Marco's coming down in a few, make sure you keep him sweet,"
"Of course," I nod towards him.
The rest of the night went fairly quickly and when I glance at the clock I realise that I only had thirty minutes left. Most customers had been served and half the restaurant was empty, leaving only those to finish their desserts and drinks.
Placing the bill down on a table and thanking the customers, I walk away. "Micah!" Marco calls my name and I turn towards him. He's stood next to the guy who was dining alone and I reluctantly walk over, unsure to what he could possibly want.
"Yeah?" I ask as I stop directly in front of them.
"This is my friend Weston," he says as he pats him firmly on the back.
My eyes dart to Weston as I give him a half hearted smile. "Hi," I say awkwardly.
"Weston just told me that he's looking for graduates for his company," Marco tells me enthusiastically.
"Oh cool," I say as I lift up my head slightly and attempt to act interested in someone elses stupid business.
Marco's head snaps to Weston. "Micah studies at Imperial College, he's set to graduate this year. In mathematics and economics."
I don't miss the way Weston's eyebrow raises as he listens to Marco. "Really?" He says almost sounding impressed. "I didn't know that many people would actively choose to study maths."
Resisting the urge to flash him a dirty stare because quite frankly his statement offended me. What was he trying to say?
"Some people get it, others don't," I shoot back bluntly.
"But you'll be looking for jobs soon won't you?" Marco nods towards me, his excitement almost too much for me.
"Well we do some great graduate schemes, our applications online are already out," Weston leans forward and I get a whiff of his strong aftershave.
"I don't want to do a graduate scheme," I admit. "I just like numbers so."
Marco flashes me a funny look, a look to say I was sabotaging myself at getting a possible job. But I didn't care, I didn't want to work for some stuck up boss who probably didn't care about his employees. I wanted to feel valued, just like I do here under Marco's business.
"Graduate schemes are great for finding what you want to do," Weston tries again but I instantly shake my head.
"I know what I want to do," I say confidently. "And that's being a logistics analyst."
My eyes look over to Marco who looks like he wants the floor to swallow him whole with the stand off we are currently having. His eyes flashing me like I am showing him up completely.
Weston shrugs once. "Fair enough," he says before leaning back in the chair. "Well I wish you all the best,"
I wanted to roll my eyes at his fakeness, the kind act didn't suit him whatsoever. "Thanks," I say quickly before excusing myself from his table and back over to the main till.
Abel's eyes watch me with amusement. "I like numbers?" He repeats before snorting to himself.
"Shut up," I say as I playfully punch him in the arm.
"If that's your way of flirting, you need some new techniques,"
I gasp and turn so quickly that I almost stumbled over my own feet. "You think that was me trying to flirt with him?" I ask in disbelief.
Abel shrugs and gives me the eye. "I dunno," he replies as he folds napkins. "But I know he's attractive and you were damn awkward."
A breath of air escapes my lips because I wanted to laugh but I stop myself. "Abel," I start. "When have I ever been anything else other than awkward? Please tell me one time right now."
He hums. "That's true," he eventually agrees. "But still you need to work on your skills,"
I move beside Abel and begin to fold the clean napkins into neat piles. "I am not looking for a boyfriend, not now and not any time soon."
"Whatever you say,"
"Trust me, I am not interested,"
"Did you hear about his business?" Abel's voice lowers so that they know we aren't talking about them.
I shake my head. "Why would I want to know about his business?"
Abel turns to give me a look like I was crazy. "Erm because he is rich as hell,"
"That's exactly why I don't want to know about his business," I start. "He's probably just as arrogant as every-fucking-person in here and you know what? I do not want to give him the time of day."
"None of these people deserve our time and you know it," my actions on the napkins become a little too aggressive and Abel notices. "We deserve better than these people who think they are above us just because they have money and money they probably haven't even rightfully earned."
"You cannot say that about everyone," Abel tilts his head towards me like I was being unreasonable. "Some people have worked hard for what they have."
"But I can say it about most of them and you know it," I say back to him instantly.
He lets out a deep sigh and nods. "I guess," he says before stepping away from the table.
"How long have they been friends?" I ask feeling curious.
Abel shrugs. "You know what, I don't know. Since when Marco went to America to take our mum to see Las Vegas, he stayed out there for a few months and came back a different person."
"You reckon he's going to be a regular?"
"Most probably," Abel tells me.
"Oh lighten up," he rolls his eyes towards me. "You'll be out of here in a couple of months and I'll be here without you."
"I wouldn't bet on it," I sigh. "It will probably take me years before I find an employer that I actually find bearable and ethical."
"Good luck with that, if working here has taught you anything. It's that there is no such thing as ethical with these people, everything is corrupt and you know it."
I didn't want his words to be a reality but it was true, I already knew this.
It wasn't the wealthy people as such that annoyed me, it was how society treats them and how they treat people like me and my mother. I have to send back a lot of my earnings to help my mum get by, she needs a full time carer and the only reason I came to London to study was to graduate and get myself into a high paid job.
My mums benefits were below the minimum, sometimes she barely has the money to be able to heat the house in the winter and it gets beyond freezing. I would be a liar if I said I didn't worry about her but I try my best to keep her well fed and comfortable, keeping the carer happy and making sure I know what is going on at all times.
She's always been supportive of me to study away from home, constantly telling me that she can look after herself just fine. But we both know she wouldn't be here if I wasn't sending money home every month.
Our government can barely help my mum even though she has contributed to society majority of her life. Paid her taxes yet they favour the wealthy over the struggling and it makes me sick.
I wanted to change the world forever. I wanted wealthy people who dismiss those who are just doing their jobs, who are rude to others who they believe are below them, who have known nothing more than being spoilt and given everything they have ever wanted to live one day in my life.
To know what it feels like to be living just above the line and struggling with everything.
I just wish they could know how it felt so maybe just maybe, they'd be a little more considerate to those who don't live the same lifestyle as them. I can wish but I know nothing will change.