Thirty years ago – nearly a decade before I was sworn in as a member of the bar – I had a job bussing tables at a swanky restaurant in beautiful Del Mar, California. I showed up for work on Friday and Saturday nights – and Sundays for brunch – and made myself busy clearing plates, utensils, wine glasses and anything else diners wanted out of their way. The tips were nothing to sneeze at, and I couldn’t have asked for a better part-time gig while in college in San Diego.
But there was something about the job that makes me scratch my head all these years later. On my night shifts, I closed the restaurant and was the last to leave. Yet before heading home, my responsibilities included bundling up trash from the kitchen and hauling the bags to dumpsters located on the opposite end of the building. Separately, I had to spray off the rubber mats that covered the kitchen floor and hang them over an outside railing to dry overnight. Here’s the rub. I wasn’t to do any of these tasks – which took me about 10 minutes, max – without first clocking out, setting the restaurant’s alarm and locking up.