(Well, after doing six weeks of blogging about my crazy big brother Tom -- may be rest in peace, and I’ll be working on finishing a book-length version of that story, with his writings interspersed -- I said I’d return to the original blog’s purpose: my survival jobs through the years. Along the way, many other interesting things happened. . . like living in NYC, being part of the CBGB music scene, moving to England, visiting Paris, etc. It’s been QUITE the life -- and it’s not even half over yet!)
One of my fave things about the survival job at One U was how they handled the waitstaff. We were a young, good looking bunch, all between 20 and 40 years old. Girls only served; guys were either bartenders, kitchen staff, or busboys. Mickey Ruskin’s two daughters, Victoria and Nina, worked as waitresses. They were both very good at their jobs, and Nina especially took it seriously. She was a thin, sallow girl who looked remarkably like her dad -- his baleful eyes, his lanky dark hair, his big teeth. Nina didn’t have the best moods, in general, and she was head waitress for a while. That meant, she knew more, had been around longer, and got to boss people around if she so chose.
Nina walked with purpose and she rarely smiled. She was the responsible sister.
Her sister, Victoria, was younger, curvier, and more cheerful. Her dark hair was long and wavy, and she had a sweet face. Mickey’s girls were, of course, off limits to the customers & staff. No foolin’ around with those chickies, nosiree.
The rest of us “girls” were called to a waitresses’ meeting one day by bossman Richard “Richie” Sanders. Skinny, dark, intense, with big eyes and nose and a haunted look about him. . . Richard was invariably kind and funny, or one gruff, tough asshole. He was a Pisces (if that means anything to you). Richie didn’t walk so much as “roll ‘n’ stroll” with this strange kind of loping, limping gait. I figured it happened in Vietnam: war wound. He had a tendency to self-medicate, if you catch my drift.
At any rate, he says at this waitress meeting, in his street-tough New York accent: “Okay, girls? We don’t want any of this in-between shit from our staff, with customers getting all namby-pamby service that’s just okay, okay? So girls, either be really really nice or be a real bitch, Okay? Okay?” Richard was a crazy, lopsided-smiling mess; his nose had perpetual sniffles; his body kept in constant, jangly motion, smoking cigarettes, drinking, never sitting still. Still in all, he was charming and he seemed to genuinely like us -- for whatever that was worth.