Hamburger Mercenary

As Mother’s Day draws to a close and as the days continue to slowly get longer, a special time of year is beginning to dawn in my hometown of Sausalito, California.

Tourist Season.

Starting in late May and going until sometime in October, with some variations depending on the year, the town where I grew up bustles with visitors from many corners of the world. Sausalito is a small former fishing village that boasts a population of around seven thousand people. Its relaxed atmosphere, colorful houseboat community, nice views of nearby San Francisco, and neighborhood proximity to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge have made it a travel destination since before I was an idea in my parent’s imagination.

Sausalito usually receives a constant influx of visitors via hourly ferry boat arrivals, double decker red busses, Zip Cars, plus a constant peddling wave of rented “Blazing Saddles” bicycles that survived a lengthy trek across the bridge from the city. Walking downtown can be a like a game of “Where’s Waldo” for finding people who actually live in Sausalito.

During this time of year I tend to hide in a coffee shop or simple avoid doing anything social in town due to massive lines and the craze of countless wandering people who have a hard time understanding common street signs.

However this summer will be different.

As of two weeks ago I am now a server in a restaurant located in the heart of downtown Sausalito. With nearby views of the bay, this eatery is one of many that cater to the summertime tourist monsoon. Opening daily at 11:30am and closing at 6pm (aligned perfectly with the incoming ferry schedule) this establishment’s primary menu item is a variation of the classic “American” style hamburger. The servings are large, food is prepared in machine-like efficiency, and table turnover is incredibly fast. The target market for business is the sea of first-timers who might have read about Sausalito in a guidebook published in a different language.

Instead of avoiding the pedestrian filled sidewalks of Bridgeway (the street that connects all of Sausalito) I’m going to pace into the lion’s den a few days a week and serve it a delicious burger with the option of adding fries to share.

Coming to work each morning in my paper-white button down shirt and ink-black pants I mentally need to expect to get crushed. It doesn’t matter how good the food is or how highly rated the restaurant is on TripAdvisor; people will come and by people I mean a lot of people.


I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of the team because the two managers of this place happen to be friends. I will have to learn the menu, adapt to a new work environment, and work really hard to earn their respect, but this is something that makes me happy.

To be honest I hardly eat hamburgers. I’m not an expert of what cheese should be added to certain sandwiches. I am by no means a “foodie” and would happily live off of a $2 meal of beans and rice.

I am however a wanderer. Inside there exists a love for traveling and going really far away from home for different lengths of time. In order to wander, one must have something saved. In order to save one needs to first get a job.

I already have one job, now this is my second.

Delivering an all-natural, free range burger to a table where the guest is using English as their second or perhaps third language, there is a small flame beginning to ignite. It’s partially because I am happy to be a tiny part of their vacation experience. Seeing people enjoying what they have worked hard for is something that puts a little smile on my face. It’s also igniting partially because, whether this person knows it or even cares about it, this plate now sitting in front of them is more than just food:

It’s a dream.

I’ll be in their shoes eventually. Some waiter in a different country will have to endure my horrible attempt to order something in their native tongue in due time. The quest for passport stamps and getting lost in random places will continue onward.

Until that happens,

I’ll refill your beverage with pride,

and happily be a

Hamburger Mercenary.


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