Age 21, I took a job as a waitress at a bar and restaurant in Buffalo, NY.
I was a full-time graduate student pursuing a Masters of Humanities degree.
I had never been a waitress or even eaten in an Italian restraint.
I was utterly unfamiliar with the dishes and struggled to read the menu in the dim interior lights. Veal Marsala? What was that?
Nevertheless, the patrons seemed to like me and I would go home each night and empty the cash filled pockets of my uniform.
Sometimes, they liked me too much.
Men would hit on me. I started to wear a ring and would hold up my hand and say “I’m married”.
That didn’t deter them.
“I like married women,” I was told.
I kept on working at the restaurant.
It was bitterly cold that winter.
The restaurant was about a mile from Lake Erie. The icy winds would enter the cuffs of my parka and race around my body.
But inside the restaurant it was warm (if dark).
It was owned and managed by an Italian family. The grandmother would sit by the door overseeing her domain. Most of my dealings were with her son and wife who treated me fairly. I steered clear of grandma.
The kitchen was run by a huge man named (what else) “Cookie”. He had a terrible temper. Thankfully, he stayed behind his counter.
So life went on.
During the day I worked on my thesis, “The Gothic in Poe and Kafka”.
At night, I tied a silk scarf to my long hair, zipped up my black polyester uniform and tried to pronounce “Bolognese”.
One day, as I hurried to the restaurant in a blizzard, I was hit by a car.
Suddenly, I was looking at the gray, overcast sky.
A man came scurrying towards me.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
He smelled of alcohol.
I found I could move my limbs. I waived him away.
He took off.
I entered the restaurant.
I began to feel a great deal of discomfort beneath my hip.
I went to the ladies room. I had a contusion the size of a frisbee.
The pain was beginning to make me immobile.
I approached grandma and told her that I had been hit by a car and had to go to the hospital.
“You fulla sheet!” she responded.
Her accusation, lack of sympathy silenced me.
I left and walked across the street to Buffalo General Hospital.
“Where were you hit?” the emergency room doctor asked me.
“High and Main”, I responded.
“No, where on your body?”
I was x-rayed, and after a while, released.
I never returned to the restaurant.
Nancy Pelosi reminds me of grandma.