He’d look exactly like a Halloween pirate if he put on an eyepatch. A divorced father of two, he stood at 6 feet-something, bald on top with a grey beard. He had a solemn default look made for professional mug shots– the type of pokerface that leaves you wondering if he was serious or not. Pete was one of the top earning servers, a long time worker at the sushi restaurant, and could’ve been manager (if our boss hadn’t been so stubborn about not paying for one).
Watching him serve was like watching a magician at work. He’d shed off any layer of grumpiness and intimidation in an instant. He was energetic and loud when he had to be, soft spoken and sophisticated in the next, and always full of jokes. He carried a merry-go-round arrangement of plates in one hand and lifted them over my head like it was light as a feather.
He wore a royal purple button up one day. “I think that color looks nice on you,” I told him nervously. I barely got the words out of my mouth before he had his arms around me in a hug. An older female server raised a brow at him as if to tell him to behave.
Pete had a friend who had a bad knee, I think. Sometimes he’d have to leave work early because the pain would get so bad. The two were similar in age and liked to fold napkins in the backroom, joking and laughing about who-knows-what. They were like a grown-up version of Tom and Finn in their secret clubhouse of soy sauce, plastic bags, and ice cubes.
“Give me a number,” he asked.
“27,” I said. He asked everyone else around for a number, too.
And it raised everyone’s curiosity. “What’s this for?” one of them asked.
“Going to the boat casino tonight. You guys are gonna be my lucky charm. Roulette!” Pete exclaimed. “Though I’m wondering if I should even go…”
“But why not? You worked hard today,” I urged.
“Why not!” he repeated, and laughed gleefully. “That’s right, I’ve got no reason not to.”
I’ve been seeing him on friends’ Snapchat stories and the local Snapchat, too. He takes these long rods attached with a net, dips them into a bucket full of bubble soap, and ends up making these elegant, dragon-lengthed bubbles. It’s like a pirate raising his flag, or just a grown ass man who appreciates the small, playful joys in life.