‘The Waiter’ by Sait Faik Abasiyanik


From Words Without Borders:

The waiter who arrives with the summer at the seaside café barely earns eight to eight and a half a week. But what’s the harm?  The café now belongs to him.  He can work as he wants. At the day’s end, after setting the chairs on top of the tables, he can smoke a cigarette while gazing at the sea, then call it a day—earlier on slow or rainy days—and lie down on his back, on the bed made with five chairs put together.  He has no one meddling in his affairs, no one he can’t stand serving, and certainly no one whose services he doesn’t care to receive.  Nor does he have to wonder why the customer who usually leaves a tip on the saucer didn’t leave any this time . . .

Every summer he leases this café for a modest price.  It is off the beaten path, but he manages to earn his living because the café, a rustic wood building overlooking the sea, mostly attracts visitors and those of poetic nature, the type that leaves no less than five kurush in tips for a cup of coffee. If asked, “What is a first-class waiter like you doing here when you can wait tables in Istanbul, at, say, The Bellevue, Paradise Garden, Panorama, Golden Beer?”  he doesn’t quite know the answer either.

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