(My signed Pretenders single from Chrissie. . . Not "My City Was Gone" but a good one, despite.)
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
6-11-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #121 (Starting Out Again. . .in the Big Apple with a new survival job at a hip new eaterie and bar: One U)
OK. I was making some music, but in a hobbyist sort of sense. I needed to make money to keep going. Sure, the rent on my apartment was under $300 at the time, but still. . . I surely had to find me one of them good ol’ “survival jobs.”
Because I’d been waitressing in London for the best part of a year and a half, I figured it made sense to find a waitress gig. I can’t recall how I found it -- probably my ex or some other friends suggested it -- but I came to work at a really hip restaurant/bar in the heart of the NYU-ville Greenwich Village. Just north and east of Washington Square Park, One University Place was the address of “One U,” or Chinese Chance, as it was also called.
“One U” had three owners: Mickey Ruskin, from Max’s Kansas City; Richard Sanders (who’d served in Vietnam and suffered from Agent Orange poisoning); and a less colorful guy who was possibly the most functional, a middle-aged man named Va Hagen. They were quite the trio. Are three bosses better than one? Hard to say. . .
I started out there on the bottom rung of the waitress ladder, with the worst shifts. The 3rd and latest shift went from 8 PM to 4 AM, the 2nd shift from 6 PM to 2 AM, and (probably) the best shift, the first, started at 4 PM and ended at midnight. I didn’t really care how late I stayed out because One U was only about a ten-minute walk from my apartment. I was young and energetic -- strong enough to carry a massive 3 by 4 foot tray with six dinners stacked on it, then grab a tray stand and whomp! the tray on it, to serve those dinners.
I’ve not seen that done in years; I doubt many who are now “servers” could do that. It was indeed tricky, but I never dropped anything from that big tray. We also had to carry all drinks on a serving or bar tray, and place coasters under the drinks. There really were rules, ways to do things.
Musically, the jukebox at One U had lots of cool singles from that time. The most played song I can remember from the time was by the Pretenders, “My City Was Gone.” How apropos for me, really. . . because, in a way, I’d returned to a place that was a whole new city after spending 18 months in London.
At the end of 1982, I spent New Year’s Eve alone and in tears, wondering why I had no boyfriend, no love, a crazy waitressing job, and wasn’t making music.
That was to change in February 1983. Meanwhile, there are still tales to tell about my server stint at One U. . .