Dropping Things Again

I’m good at dropping things.

So good, in fact, that sometimes my natural dropping-things instincts kick in when I’m not even trying.

This is usually fine, except when I’m holding a thing – especially a thing that should not be dropped – like a baby.

Dropping babies is the kind of thing that can get you in trouble with babies’ parents, concerned bystanders and officers of the law – not to mention make you generally unattractive to women. I’m also informed it’s not good for the baby either – but what’s it going to do, beat me up? I’m more concerned about the women.

My fear of holding babies kept me away from them for a long time. I was thirty-years-old before I first held a baby. Its name was Kate (Hi Kate! Don’t read this. I like to swear), and I struggled to think of it as a she – because, to me, it was basically just something that shouldn’t be dropped.

I sat on a sofa, holding this funny-smelling small human cub, while only two rooms distant was a kitchen with drawers full of sharp kitchen implements – knives and skewers and other pointy sticks with unfathomable (but presumably culinary) purposes.

What if I dropped the baby on those knives?

So I sat on the sofa, terrified that baby Kate would slip from my arms and land on the knives in the kitchen, suffering coo-ing and aww-ing and people joking that the baby and I had the same hair-style.

And just as I felt my grip loosening – just as the baby began to slip from my arms onto the knives in the drawer in the kitchen – someone took it from me, and I slumped back on the sofa, sweating and palpitating and wishing the damn thing would just grow up already so we could have a beer together and laugh about the time I nearly killed it.

Since then I have held approximately zero babies, but now I have a new and terrifying dropping-things related fear.

I have recently found a job to do around my writing. I work in a cafe. I serve hot beverages to parents who bring babies into the cafe. I carry hot liquids between tables and up steps. Sometimes those babies lie in prams or baby carriages, next to their mothers’ tables, dreaming sweet dreams of boobs or first-person pukers or whatever, and I have to get a hot maraschino or chocotato or oversized three-person pot of tea past the baby, to the table.

This is not a good idea. I have a terrible fear of bathing newborn nippers in scalding liquid at least three times a shift. I also have alarming doubts about the structural integrity of teapots, of serving trays and saucers. Visions swim through my head of ceramic cracking, handles breaking, tiny lungs screaming.

I don’t even have a very good grasp of the horizontal. There’s so much that could go wrong. I wouldn’t trust me with solids, let alone liquids. Let alone hot liquids.

But on the other hand, I get an incredible amout of job satisfaction every time I deliver a drink without something dying.

The sound of a saucer settling gently on a tabletop is sweeter than the sound of a woman calling me to bed. The thunk of a tea-pot delivered with the same amount of tea with which it was filled is like hearing my name chanted by a victorious army, standing over the bloody corpses of our enemies on the field of battle. When a young mother thanks me for bringing her latte without killing her baby, it’s like hearing the doors of Valhalla creak open just wide enough for Odin’s hand to reach out and give me a high-five.

I am the great service-industry hero. Come and watch me in action. It’s thrilling. You’ll be ooh-ing and ahh-ing with excitement as I weave my way between the tables. Bring your dates. Bring your kids.

Just order something chilled.


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30 Responses

  1. I have never held a baby. On time I was asked to by a family member, but I told her if I didn’t ask her to come hold my chickens she should not ask me to hold her child.

    Needless to say no one else asked me to hold their babies.

  2. Mark says:

    My stepdad has trouble holding babies but it’s more that he has huge hands and is quite strong so he’s afraid of accidentally hurting them. Sometimes I get scared of holding a baby but they’re so small and soft I doubt it would really do much damage to them.

  3. Maria says:

    Its a while since I held a baby…they can be rather slippery when wet! 😉

  4. lily says:

    My friend was actually dropped when she was a baby…by her own mother. Oh how we all laugh about it to this day. It’s okay, she didn’t sustain any injuries, she kind of ‘just bounced a bit,’ according to her mother. 🙂

  5. Kianwi says:

    You are so brilliantly funny!

    I have this terrible fear whenever I carry a baby down a set of stairs (used to be a nanny). All I can imagine the whole time is that I will trip and we’ll both go flying, so by the time I reach the bottom of the steps, I’m weak with relief that we survived the almost terrible fall…even though it never happened. Damn our imaginations!

  6. Rachel says:

    I’ve never really had a fear of dropping a baby. What I do have a fear of is holding a newborn baby, letting its head fall, and either having its neck break or choking it. I panic whenever the baby isn’t at least six months old.

    I work in a restaurant and have to carry heavy trays of food and drinks. Thats my entire job. I’m just the girl who runs the food. When its not crowded, its not as scary. When there’s a big party or its a busy night, all I can think about is what if I drop a tray on somebody or whack them in the head and lose balance and they not only wear what I’m carrying, but they get a concussion from the whack in the head.

    Sorry. I’m not helping at all.

  7. DWei says:

    But what if an ice cube hit a baby in the eye?! Or several ice cubes? Or several eyes?

    Chilled drinks are dangerous too!

  8. HeatherL says:

    When I was a server we were required to use trays to serve drinks and I hated it because the tray always felt off balance to me. One day I had a tray full of iced tea and as I was starting to place the drinks on the table my hand tilted just a little bit…enough to throw the whole tray into a teeter totter and whoosh! Three glasses of iced tea toppled down on top of a toddler in a high chair and his big brother sitting right next to him!

    I felt so horrible that I comped them their meal and gave them free desserts. The parents were actually pretty cool about the whole thing and felt so bad about me feeling so bad about it that they left me a twenty dollar tip.

  9. MOV says:

    gah, so sorry to tell you this, but when I opened your blog page, it tried to give my computer a virus. talk about an infected connection. just thought you would want to know (my computer software blocked it).

    anyway, I obviously want to read your fantastic writing, but wanted to give you a heads up.

    so I did go back and read your post, and it is hilarious as always. I used to serve hot coffee on the airplane to innocent unburned babies and then there would be turbulence. talk about stressful. just as long as the ground beneath you does not start to shake as you deliver that hot tea to the hot mamas, you should be ok at your new job.

    ps– figure out why your computer is trying to give me a virus!!!

    • Ash-Matic says:

      Thanks for the heads up. No idea what’s going on there. Might be the Twitter widget thing I just added, but it’s from the Twitter site. Some browsers freak out about cross-site apps, so it might just be something over-cautious on your system. I’ll keep an eye on it though.

      Serving hot liquids on moving vehicles sounds terrifying. Might as well just strap on some roller blades while you’re at it.

  10. jaybird says:

    Wish I could see you in action. I’d have to order something hot and watch you sweat bringing it over to my table. 🙂

    Babies, are remarkably resilient. Just ask my three. I dropped one or two of them on their heads. And their all honor students…lol.

  11. The Beans says:

    I am an absolute wimp when it comes to holding babies. I have a “look but don’t touch” policy with them, especially if they are not my own kids. 😛


  12. The Beans says:

    P.S., I just bought a copy of your novel. Can’t wait to read it! ^.^

  13. I’ve never held a baby. I have no idea how you’re supposed to do it (there seems to be a whole technique to the thing . . .) and would probably panic if someone tried to get me to hold one. 😛

  14. We share the same fear, also I drop myself a lot on sharp things. That’s how I ended up with tweezers in my knee recently. So do you get to wear a cape in work?

  15. Hi Ash-matic, lol. Oh, I’d love to come see you in action. Methinks you can handle hot teapots without a problem. 🙂 And babies are nearly unbreakable…sort of. 🙂

    And, bad news. I had the same thing happen that MOV did. Firefox prevented it from popping up; it didn’t even get to Norton. 🙂

  16. Brett Minor says:

    Somehow a baby that I never asked for is always thrust into my arms. I don’t know how it keeps happening, but I don’t want them.

  17. What Brett said. Why do people always think that you want to hold their baby? Like, I have 4 dogs, but if you come over I won’t shove my Shiba Inu into your arms and say, “Here, hold this for 10 minutes. It’s cute, right?”

  18. Hmm. This made me glad I don’t have a job like this, because I have NO coordination and me + hot drinks = mess for MYSELF, not to mention other living beings, especially fragile, little ones!

  19. I was always uncomfortable around babies, and I’m a girl. I babysat one time and never, ever again a baby. Could have used the money but gave the jobs to my sister, she loved babies.

    Nice to meet you, thanks for stopping by my blog!

  20. Can we write something together? Not only is your writing simply amazing, but you have such a similar outlook on things as me.

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