I have calluses on my fingertps and the palms of my hands. I especially notice them when my hands get dry because they're the first parts to feel taut and papery. They remind me of when my brother and I used to race each other around the pool. We had an in-ground pool with concrete surrounding it. The rule was you had to float, using no muscles but your arms and by placing your hands very quickly one right over the other on the concrete rim, you would drag yourself around and around the pool, trying to pass the opponent. The concrete was hot and we would naturally wear out our fingertips on its roughness and burn them at the same time. It only took a few games of that in order to make it unbearable to open a car door. We found ways of dodging the metal hot handle to spare our worn fingertips, though, by reaching under the handle with a knuckle or two. Soon enough after so many games, they became callused and we no longer had to dodge car handles or the metal part on seatbelts for that matter.
It's been years since my fingertips have been so worn, but this summer instead of being worn from concrete, they've been worn by carrying hot plates to customers. I have been working as a waitress at JB's. I got the job extremely easily considering my husband is one of the managers, but no one there seems to mind the unfairness. I have trained myself to smile to the customers and not seem too anxious to get their flaming hot plate out of my hands. I'm afraid that one night I won't be able to make it to the table, that I will just drop their food on the ground and be done with the torture. I love it, though, when they sit there and stare at the food for awhile before realizing I have nowhere to put it. Then they clear a place for the plate to land. All the while I just have to stand there smiling while my fingertips scream. Then I smile, ask them if they need anything else, go behind the servers station, and stick my fingers in my ice water. Then I hear "Leanna!" from the cook's window, and I realize it's time to do it all over again.
Yes, I have greater respect for servers now, and a deeper longing to blister my fingertips in a more nostalgic way like by racing my brother around the pool in a silly game. It just made callused fingertips seem worth it.