Once I started at One U, the first challenge to overcome was attitude from the other waitresses. (BTW, I heard that Chris Butler, when he started his band, The Waitresses, was considering asking me to be the front person. I must have been away, in London -- they got Patty Donahue instead. She was, of course, brilliant -- and quite adorable.)
Anyway, one of the tasks for the 3rd shift was for us to make the whipped cream by hand, with a kitchen whisk. I took one look at that situation, sized it up and did what my mother’s daughter would have to do: I brought in my electric hand mixer.
Did those other girls laugh and make fun of me! Definitely. But did they start asking to borrow that hand mixer a few days later, once it proved a real time and arm-saver? Definitely, again. Soon enough, they stopped making fun of me and grudgingly accepted me as a waitress who didn’t take their shit. . . and who had a good work ethic and sense of humor.
In the kitchen, two of the cooks I remembered were really sweet, and funny. Prince was a black chef from the Caribbean, and he had a calm way of doing things, very deliberate. His beautiful speaking voice was a pleasure to hear, and the way he said things made me smile.
The other memorable cook was named Joe. “Joe Mama,” we called him. He was a short, large-headed, long-haired part Chicano gay man from Texas who had a wicked sense of humor and the very milk of human kindness flowing in his veins. All the waitresses loved Joe. He could get away with all kinds of nasty stuff with us, like asking “What’s the matter, honey, Uncle Red in town?” That meant, are you feeling off because you’re having your period? Somehow, it was cute when he said that. . .
They had a few things on the menu at One U that I thought were outstandingly delicious. One was a cold vichyssoise (potato & leek) soup; the other was lightly fried zucchini sticks with parmesan cheese and lemon. The bread was from Zito’s bakery on Bleecker Street, and it was deliciousness to the tenth power.
Servers brought the bread, soup, and salad to the tables; they didn’t have to put on a slip and order any of that from the cooks and so, I was in my glory. I could sneak food to people I knew who needed it. You see, I have this need to feed people, which is nice, really, and actually vital if you’re working in a restaurant. . .