#08: Food Service Files – The 1950s Diner

Episode Transcript

(This is an auto-generated transcript. There may be errors.)

This is part one in a three episode series. About my time working in the food service industry. In the past, I worked in three different roles at three separate establishments. I was a waiter at a 1950s themed diner, a banquet server at a hotel and conference center and a bus boy at an Italian restaurant.

At each establishment, I gained valuable life experience, made a little bit of money, learned a lot about food, customer service and the human condition and met some fascinating people along the way. I made a few lifelong friends and brought into my perspective, becoming a bit more educated and culturally enriched.

I also died a little inside at each job as my romantic image of dining, as an exciting career was shattered. And instead I saw what you might argue was the ugly underbelly of an industry that portrays itself as glamorous, but is actually filled with people who are struggling poor broke, and sometimes highly dysfunctional.

In this series, I will try to be positive about aspects of the industry that I can. But as I promised in my introductory episode of this podcast, I will be completely real and tell it like it is from my few years of experience, which is by no means authoritative, but it is my experience. Food service is an industry that you might love, but it doesn’t love you back.

It is hard to make a living. It is even harder to find a place where you can work that respects you. And no matter how many years you spend in the industry, you will always be completely replaceable. This is episode one of three, where I’ll share about the time I spent waiting tables at a 1950s themed American diner.

Like many, many people in America. I spent a few years working in food service and hospitality during my late teens and early adult life during that awkward season of flux, right after high school. And before you sign on to a serious career that hopefully lasts the rest of your life. Waiting tables and serving food and other associated acts serve as a great way to make money while keeping a flight taxable schedule.

It requires a minimum of experience and education, and you can start in the industry at a very early age. The job I had at this diner, didn’t like last, very long, maybe three or four months. I like to tell people that it was one of the worst jobs I ever had, but the benefits were fantastic. Okay. Well, not benefits, plural.

Just one benefit, but I won’t tell you what that is until the very end many people end up cooking or serving food and drink or waiting tables or cleaning up afterward because they’re at a life stage where a normal full-time job doesn’t make sense. In my case, for example, I was a young single man going to community college during business hours and a part-time hourly job that I could perform in the evenings that didn’t require a lot of experience was ideal.

My first foray into hospitality was working at a 1950s themed diner. Yes, a real actual greasy spoon diner with polished aluminum walls, happy days, theme to decor all these music playing on a jukebox and very greasy, very fried foods served up with chocolate malts and cherry phosphates. From the time I walked into the trailer for an interview on the construction site, where the restaurant was going to be built, I figured this would be a job that I would love.

Looking down at the job application in front of me during my meeting with the GM general manager of the soon to be built diner, I felt right at home, a cover sheet, asked questions. Like, do you like listening to oldies? Is your idea of a good time singing along to at the hop? Do you want to serve ice cream sodas?

Yes. Yes. And yes. I thought for sure this would be a fascinating step in a totally different direction than anything I had done before. I was 19 at the time, the jobs I’d had before were things like a maintenance worker, a janitor, and a laborer on construction sites. I wanted to do something for a change that didn’t give me splinters or smashed thumbs and where I didn’t have to inhale cigarette smoke.

And most importantly, I wanted to work indoors. Now I was not a fan of working outdoors in the cold Colorado weather. Food service sounded like a good choice for me. I could get paid every day. I could probably get perks, like discounts on food. I could set a flexible schedule and I could pick up some extra shifts when I wanted to during say winter break, summer vacation, holiday weekends, et cetera.

So a few days after my interview, I got a return phone call from the GM saying that I’d been selected and was offered a job as a waiter. I was stoked. This was, can it be a fun opportunity? I was hired to work in a restaurant that didn’t even exist yet. It was going to be a brand new building with a brand new crew that had never worked together before to prepare for the job.

The GM gave me a menu and told me to take it home and study it. I was also given a giant blue bowling shirt with a big yellow color, and I had to buy some black jeans to go along with it. I also had to buy several large button pins that I pinned to my shirt with sassy and sarcastic remarks on them when construction was done and the building was getting ready to open.

We started training. We had a few days of orientation and what they called mock service. Many people who were hired to be servers already had a lot of serving experience. Some had been waiters or waitresses for 10, 15, or even 20 years. Some of them didn’t including me. So I was extremely nervous. I studied the menu, like it was a final exam in college.

I spent hours pouring over every detail of that silly menu. I would close my eyes, trying to remember things like, what is the blue plate special for Tuesday meatloaf, then open my eyes and look pot roast. Darn it. During mock service, we had our initial orientation learned about the company and how things would work there.

And they gave us name tags. I was surprised to find out that we weren’t going to use our real names at this diner. We would get silly names characters from 1950s and 1960s pop culture names like big bopper funds, spike, Roxy, cupcake, Daisy, sissy, and more. I thought this would be kind of cool, but the bad news is we didn’t get to pick our own names.

We were assigned them the name assigned to me. Wally Wally. I thought what? Oh, right. Like Wally Cleaver from leave it to Beaver who boy bore ring. That wasn’t exciting to me at all. And I asked if I could switch, but they said, no. We spent a few nights performing mock service, where people in the community came in and pretended to be customers.

And they literally sat down just like real customers and ate the real food. And we pretended to check them out. No money was exchanged, but at the end of each night, we’d get together with management and talk about how the evening went. One of the visiting managers from the corporate office would talk about how the chit system wasn’t working the right way or how we’d have to speed up picking up hot food at the window, et cetera, by the way, in case you didn’t know CIT C H it is just another name for the little ticket that the printer prints out.

When you put an order in the POS POS, by the way, stands for point of sale. So yes, you have to put an order in the POS and it will print a Chet. As you’ll probably learn throughout this series. Food service has a lot of acronyms and strange nicknames for things. Mock service was a bit of a train wreck for the first few days, but eventually we got it all figured out and we had our official opening.

This was a particularly defining moment in my life, working as a server for the first time ever at a brand new restaurant on opening night, I was so nervous. And I will never forget the very first customer I ever had. He was a nice, quiet gentlemen who came in with his younger son and ordered a hamburger.

I nervously scribbled down his order, went to enter it in the POS and probably checked it three or four times just to make sure I got it right. I may have even forgotten to ask him something important, like how he wanted it cooked. And I remember my hands fumbling nervously as I refilled his drinks.

When I dropped off his burger, he smiled and said, thanks. And I walked away proudly. But when I came back to check on him and ask how it tasted, he apologetically asked me, um, you know, can you just, can you look at this? I mean, I guess it’s what I ordered, you know, but it’s just, it’s just not very good. My first customer ever didn’t like the burger he ordered that I had just brought him.

That was really frustrating. And what I didn’t know at the time was that this would be a sign of things to come in the future. I would see this pattern repeat many, many times. Now, at this point I was not a burger eater. I had almost never eaten a hamburger or cheeseburger, so I didn’t know what constituted a good burger, I suppose that put me at a disadvantage, but it was a really frustrating experience.

People would order a burger. I would ask them exactly how they wanted it. And then I would serve it to them and they’d call me back. Look at me, sheepishly, like something was wrong, but they could never quite express their specific disappointment. It was kind of ironic. Our diner was known for being a burger joint and probably half of the people who came in and ordered burgers were disappointed in the burgers they ordered.

I always felt bad about this as though it was my fault and it wasn’t, but I’m sure it affected my tips. Despite the fact that people sometimes didn’t like the food they ordered waiting tables was kind of a fun job. I got to meet new people on a regular basis. And if I got one customer who was rude, the next one wouldn’t be one part of the day would be really slow.

And then the next there’d be a huge rush with lots of people literally lined out the door. Sometimes I’d get older couples who would come in for a date night on a regular basis because it reminded them of their childhood. One of my regulars came in all the time to get chocolate Pepsis. He told me how he used to ride his bicycle down to the drug store and get a chocolate Coke for just 10 cents of all the people I met though, the most interesting folks were the people I worked with.

Some of them lived sad or pretty difficult lives at the diner and elsewhere. I worked with people who were pretty lonely. Recent divorcees, especially women, single moms, older women who wanted to return to work after having kids, but couldn’t get hired by the industries they’d worked in before, because they’d been out of the workforce for a giant 15 year gap, burnouts from the fine dining scene who just couldn’t take the pressure and quit to find a less stressful job.

And people who’d gotten laid off from jobs. They loved because the economy struggled and a lot more. Some people like me were college students who met with varying degrees of success, juggling school and work at the same time, the ability to come and go as you please is really what made serving tables.

So attractive. One guy I worked with was a massage school student who had yet to get his license for massage and just needed to fill in the gaps between his final classes, tests, and license exams to pay his bills until he graduated. One of the managers I really liked was a woman who owned a cement company with her husband, but she didn’t really work in her company.

So she wanted to make some extra income doing what she had done in the past. Working as a manager at a restaurant, another manager that I really liked was a man whose wife owned a day spa, but he needed something to do in the daytime. He and I joked about it, how he really got the jump to stay out of trouble.

Cause his wife didn’t need his help at all. So, I’m not saying all my coworkers lived sad or depressing lives, but something I learned very quickly is that food service, or at least working as a waiter or a busser at a little diner, like this is not a career choice. Back when I was a kid, I used to think of working as a server, as a legitimate choice for a job forever.

Cool diner like ours, with fun music, where we could chew bubblegum and spin hula hoops on the clock would have sounded really exciting. But this type of job exists as a sort of safety net for people who can’t do other jobs, not always, but many of the people that I met were stuck or they started out in food service right after high school or between semesters of college and thought to themselves, I’ll just do this for a while to fill in the gaps until my career starts.

And then their career never took off. I had one coworker who didn’t last very long, who was maybe in her early sixties. I don’t know what she had done before, but she clearly got this job to just make a little pocket change at an interesting place before she would retire in a few years after just a couple of weeks, she ended up quitting.

She told me it was just too darn hard. Too fast, too confusing, too many requests, too many people asking too much of her all at the same time, she was clearly overwhelmed, which was a shame because I loved working with her. I don’t want to come across as a judgemental person or to act like I’m totally sour on the industry completely.

But a lot of people I met in what seemed like a really happy environment were actually very sad. Many of them did drugs. Some of them seriously, hardcore drugs. I have a lot of respect for the people who came in and worked at this place. And I’ve only increased in my respect for people in food service over the years.

But as a young naive, 19 year old, starry-eyed thinking this would be a fun job in a fun industry. I gotta be honest. It was really disappointing. Take the single moms that I knew. For example, that’s an incredibly hard job, way harder than mine. The benefit of waiting tables for peanuts without any dependence at all.

I was single and unattached. But I had one coworker who still had a nursing baby and she had to drive 45 minutes from a country town to get to work, work a full shift, and then drive back home. Her mom had to watch her baby while she was at work. And I’m sure that was hard for my coworker, her mom and her baby.

I’m pretty sure whatever she made at the restaurant wasn’t enough to pay all of her bills, situations like these made me really sad. And they also made me think about how there’s so much going on behind the scenes in restaurants and food service and hospitality that most of the patrons have.

Absolutely no idea about. I thought it was fascinating that the dining room can be peaceful, relaxed, and serene, and even have music in the background with the kitchen is a chaotic hell where people or sweating the air is full of hot steam. From the day dishwasher, dishes are being dropped. Chefs are yelling out instructions.

People are bumping into each other and the food orders are being cranked out rapidly, whether they’re accurate or not. And that’s exactly why you leave a tip at a restaurant. That’s how we make our money. The fact that you don’t know any of what goes on behind the scenes and never have to see it is exactly what makes our job worth, what you pay us.

So on that note, I don’t intend on making this episode an expos, a like kitchen confidential or some other muckraking story about the horrors that go on behind the scenes. But I do intend on sharing some things that you just might not know about. So here we go, here are 16 things I think most people should know about the food service industry.

Number one, frying food is a great way to hide what you’re actually eating. As I said, this was a diner and almost everything was fried. And let me tell you our battered Cod fish and fried catfish, we’re dealing Russ, but. If you saw what that fish looked like before it had been battered and fried, you might not want to order it.

Unlike ordering fresh fish, you don’t really have to worry about plating and presentation with fried fish and fry. Batter covers a multitude of sins. Number two servers often haven’t tried the food, even if they say they have, sometimes people would ask me, what do you recommend? Or what’s your favorite?

This was always kind of a conundrum for me, because I would try to redirect the question by saying, well, some people like this or we sell a lot of this. But I couldn’t honestly answer the question. I didn’t like most of the food we served and I rarely ate it. Most days I would just make a sandwich for lunch and then eat dinner on the way home.

Almost every single night. I got two orders of chicken nuggets from the Wendy’s drive through with ranch sauce on my way home. Why it cost me something like $2 and 22 cents. One of the few things I did eat on my lunch breaks while I was on the job was the free coffee cake and chocolate chip cookies dropped off by the Entenmann bread guy.

Yes, mom. I’m sorry if you’re listening, your son, a coffee cake and chocolate chip cookies for lunch, many, many times. Number three, labels like fresh or homemade do not necessarily mean either one. Some things on a menu that say fresh don’t technically mean that if you want say peach cobbler or Apple cake or a homemade muffin, it may be made the same day, or it may have been wrapped in saran wrap, sitting in the cooler for a day or two and put in a microwave to heat it up for you on the third day.

Is that a problem? Well, I don’t know. Yes, you can that homemade muffin, but just know that if it’s a bit crusty on the sides, it’s probably because it’s spent a day or two in the fridge. Would you order the fridge cooled muffin? That’s been in plastic wrap in the fridge for two nights. Hmm. It doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

Does it number four, crackers and little packets of sauce or jelly might be reused. I don’t know if this is still the case or if this was the case anywhere else, other than where I worked. But when I was at the diner, 16 years ago, those little jam cups and Cracker packs and coffee, creamers and ketchup packets on the table.

If you didn’t use them, we would reuse them. We would wipe them off or soak them in a bowl of sanitizer, let them dry and put them back. We had to, it was the rule. I hated this and was almost certain, it was against some sort of health code, but they absolutely insisted that this was not negotiable.

Management made certain, we didn’t just throw them away now, secretly and I don’t feel bad about this at all. And I wish I had done it more. Some of us took advantage of the fact that the rule was, if the crackers were broken, you could throw them away. So, Oh, look at that. These four unused packets of crackers on the table, all of them are broken.

I guess. I’ll just throw them out. Number five. Servers often don’t make a real hourly wage. Obviously this depends on the country you’re working in and which state you live in if you’re in the USA, but in Colorado, where I was working at the time I was paid minimum wage, minimum tipped wage, and that was $2 and 35 cents an hour.

That was at least $3 less than what the typical quote unquote minimum wage would be. So if you’re sitting at a table at a restaurant, assuming that tips are just bonus and the restaurant is actually paying the servers are real wage you’re wrong. When I was serving tables, I was literally working for tips.

I could barely pay the gas money to get to and from work just on my hourly wage. Also, I had to tip out for bussers and hosts. Before going home at the end of each shift, we would have to line up and show our managers all of our dollar bills in perfect order with all the George Washington’s faced exactly the same way.

It made me feel like a six year old kid, but that was the rule. We would show the manager how much we made and then put our tips in a jar for the bussers and host number six, I did get an employee discount, but I didn’t really use it. I don’t remember exactly what the employee discount was. Honestly, it was quite generous.

It was something like 60% off while I’m on the clock and 40% off if I was off the clock and that discount applied to everyone in my party. I liked that. And I did like some of the food when I first told my friends and roommates, Hey, let’s go to my work. We can get 40% off everything. They were really excited.

But after the first or second time, they didn’t want to go anymore. One time I took one of my roommates out for dinner, and then later that night, when we went home, he was up throwing up in the toilet all night. I asked him, are you sick? And he said, no, I think it was the chicken fried chicken I got at the restaurant that made me feel terrible.

I just felt bad about the food quality number seven, the 1950s theme got old pretty quickly. I have literally had a conversation with my manager, just like the conversation Jennifer Aniston does with her manager on the movie office space, where she’s criticized for not having enough pieces of flair on her shirt.

Sometimes people would laugh or giggle at my uniform. I’d go to hang out with a group of friends after work. And eventually I just couldn’t bear the embarrassment of the uniform, or I’d forget that I was still wearing a name tag. Then people would say, Ooh, hi, Wally. I thought about bringing a gym bag and dressing in and out for work, but they didn’t have any locker rooms.

And I certainly would have been the only one who did that. So I just never did. Number eight. Some people didn’t understand that the whole thing was an act. One time I was serving a table with a husband or wife and a couple kids at one point, the man asked me, Hey, is Wally short for Walter or Wallace? I chortled out loud and said, Walter, just guessing since I had never thought of that before, it was a really good thing.

I didn’t laugh too hard and say what I wanted to say, which is, are you kidding? My name isn’t Wally, because he then responded me too. His name was Walter. And he went by Wally. Sometimes people outside of work would ask, is that your real name? And I’d think seriously. And some of my friends knew that we all had fake names and they would ask, why did you pick Wally?

You think I could pick a cool name, like Elvis or Potsie or buddy? And I chose Wally, no way. This was assigned to me. Number nine. A lot of people in food service are seriously at the poverty level. I had one coworker who was assumed to be single mom. She was pregnant and had no husband or boyfriend. She came into work one day sick.

I asked her, you know, we serve food here. Right. You shouldn’t come in sick. And she said, yeah, but I can’t afford not to. Some people had a really hard time paying basic bills. Some people, they just lacked financial sense. And it’s easy to criticize other people’s financial choices, but generally personal finances for people in food service are just in a horrendous state because we get paid mostly by cash.

At the end of our shift, it’s really hard to track our income and it’s even harder to stick to a budget and track purchases. Also every day we earn a different amount. No two days are the same, but then there’s also the harsh reality that some people just spend their money poorly. A lot of servers would blow a lot of their hard earned cash at a nightclub after their shift was done.

I know it’s their way of having some sort of social life since we work nights and weekends and holidays, but still I had some coworkers who would go out clubbing late at night, get super drunk and ended up sleeping with each other. Sometimes I’d hear, Oh man, you should’ve seen us at the club last night.

Of course I was 19. So I couldn’t have gone to a club even if I wanted to. And I definitely did not want to see them at the club last night. One of the best examples of strange financial choices is I had one coworker who had an incredibly dilapidated, broken, crappy car that was so broken. It was missing both side mirrors.

Four months. He never took the time or spent the money to get those fixed. Why not? I don’t know. He did have enough money for happy hour. Number 10. You’re kind of at the mercy of the managers and the host or hostess managers are the ones who assign you your shift and hosts and hostesses are the ones who seat people in your station.

There’s very little of this that you can control. Sometimes you may only have two or three tables at a time, or sometimes your manager would schedule you for the dead of the afternoon when nobody’s interested in going out for lunch. This can be a serious challenge because you’re taking time out of your day to get in your car, our drive, to work and stay there for several hours for the sole purpose of making money.

But if you get a shift at a crappy time when nobody comes in, or if the host or hostess doesn’t seat people in your station, there’s really not a whole lot you can do about that. If I were a server these days, I would be way more bold in asking for better shifts. Or trying to negotiate with the host or hostess or even bribe them.

I wouldn’t even care if I’m going to work to make money. You better believe I’m not coming home empty handed. I wasn’t that imaginative back then though. And I definitely came home empty handed or almost several times. I remember one particular time I worked a five or six hour shift and I left with $24.

That was just depressing. And don’t forget, we had to bring our own bank with us. So I still had to keep a certain amount of cash in my apron at all times. Number 11, there’s really no upward mobility as a server, as a manager, I suppose you could make more money than a server, but I don’t really know for sure.

The only way to advance in my career would be to become a manager, but that seemed kind of like a dead end job too. I did eventually go to the GM a few times and explained that I wasn’t making any money. And he kept saying, Oh man, you should be making 12 or $15 an hour easy. Maybe I can have someone shadow you to see what you’re doing wrong, but it wasn’t me.

And that was insulting. It was the restaurant. I had multiple people who came in on a regular basis and asked to sit in my section because they liked me. And more than a few times people told me that they were so happy. They asked if they could talk to a manager to tell them what a great job I had done taking care of them.

Number 12 showing up five minutes before closing time really makes your server angry. Especially if you have a large group, the odds are, if someone’s on closing crew, they’ve already been on their feet for five, six, seven, eight hours. And now your poor server has been spending the past hour closing down his station and you are the one thing preventing him from going home.

When large groups do this, they usually end up extending the server shift another 30 minutes to an hour. I’m sure every restaurant has its own rules, but if you walk in 10 minutes before closing time, and there are eight of you and you order a bunch of appetizers and entrees, you kind of just ruined my evening.

Cause now I have to stay away longer than I wanted. And the kitchen has been trying to shut down the grill in anticipation of closing. And now they’ve got to fire it back up again. Also a lot of times drink stations have been broken down a couple of minutes before closing time. So if you’re ordering a soda and it’s five minutes before closing, it may be that the soda fountain has already been shut down.

Don’t make us put it back together just for you, please. If you want a server that is excited to see you, please don’t show up right before closing time. Number 13, the best time to go to a restaurant is actually during the heat of rush hour, even though it can be hard to get a seat, sometimes that’s the absolute best time.

Because most restaurants recycle food from the night before, like I said, especially cakes, pies, and baked goods like pastries or the potential for having old crusty food is highest in the morning. But if you show up right in the heat of rush hour, you can get hot food right out of the oven from a fresh batch that was not refrigerated.

Number 14. Please don’t harass your server about things they don’t have control over this didn’t happen very often, but there’s a type of person out there who, when finding out they can’t get what they want will berate the server. Even though we’re just the messenger at the diner where I worked, if you want to decide of ranch and it didn’t already come with your entree.

I had to charge you $1. Yes. That’s a stupid rule and yes, it made us feel like cheapskates, but I would technically be stealing from the company if I didn’t tell you about that and charge you for it. And boy did that make some people angry. Are you kidding me? A dollar. That’s ridiculous. Yeah, I know. And it’s not my fault.

Why are you taking out your anger on me? I’m just the server. The same goes for checking ID, man. Oh man. People ordering beer created more headaches for me than anything else. Some young woman orders a beer, and then I say, can I check your ID? And she says, seriously, are you for real? And I say, yes, ma’am I’m for real.

Then she says, why. I don’t even have it with me. I left it in the car and we do this awkward back and forth dance in front of her table mates. Some people could be really ugly about that. I promise you, I think ID laws and policies are stupid too, but I don’t want to get fired. Don’t harass me for it. And for Pete’s sake, bring your ID with you when you plan on drinking during dinner.

Another example, if your order takes an annoyingly long time to arrive at your table, I promise you it’s not my fault. It’s the kitchen for whatever reason. Sometimes the kitchen takes a long time to get food out, but once that food is ready to go, I guarantee you, I am on it like a fly on honey. Our diner had a rule.

They stressed over and over again, which was drop everything for hot food. That meant if I heard Wally hot food come over the speaker, I had to stop whatever I was doing and go get that hot food and bring it to the table. So if you’re thinking that your food is just sitting under a heat lamp and getting stale, because I’m too lazy or forgetful to pick it up, you’re just wrong.

That never happened. Number 15. As I’ve already explained. I didn’t work at this diner very long. I think it was three or four months, but in that time I saw adults behaving badly managers, yelling at each other. Sometimes almost screaming. One man went full Jerry Maguire and threw his apron on the ground and yelled, I quit and walked out.

This probably doesn’t happen very often, but it happened at least once while I was there. Oh. And rampant drug use, it happens. I was told by one of my managers that at one of her previous jobs, she found a coworker dead in the bathroom, stall from a drug overdose. I really don’t want to be too harshly critical of people in this situation, but I’m telling you that is not something that I would have expected to happen in a restaurant.

Finally, we had one new hire who was used to working mornings, but switched to nighttime. So he ended up working the same shift as me. I knew from day one, he wasn’t going to last, he had a noticeable anger problem. I watched him for a few nights, like a kettle on the heat, waiting for him to boil over. And one night he did.

He got in some kind of screaming match with a manager and either threatened violence or through something I don’t recall. But I do recall that when he stormed out the front door, after getting fired, we locked the front door and called the cops because the manager was afraid for her safety later, a few servers.

And I walked the remaining waitresses out to their cars after closing time. Number 16, some people who work in food service are criminals and I’m not insulting them. I just literally mean actual criminals. I didn’t know this until one day I was working at the counter and the phone rang, I answered the phone and the person on the other end said, this is so-and-so calling from such and such to verify that so-and-so is actually at work.

I would say yes, he is. He got here about 10 minutes ago and then hang up confused. Wondering what the heck that was all about. Eventually I found out what was going on. These were supervisors from a local halfway house, checking in on their inmates to make sure they actually went to work. Like they said they would.

I got to see that over the years in food service, not just at the diner, but elsewhere. I met people who had ankle bracelets, tracking their every move. And I met some people who not only lived in a halfway house, but some of them literally lived in prison, but were on a, it makes sense. When you think about it, food service is a great industry for someone like that.

You don’t need a whole lot of experience or education. You don’t have to commit to a serious schedule and you can work part-time number. Okay. That’s enough. I’m not counting anymore. I’ve shared enough about my time at the diner. Ultimately it was a really important life experience. I was able to hone my work ethic, gained some skills.

I met a lot of interesting people and I learned a lot of life lessons. I wasn’t really proud of what we were serving and that wasn’t really making enough money. So I needed to look for a job elsewhere. And that’s exactly what I did. I was ready to go. I was talking to a coworker about it and he tipped me off about a friend of his who was in management at a hotel downtown.

They had a need for banquet servers bank with servers, I thought. Hm. That definitely sounded like a step up. So I went in and interviewed for that job and was excited when I found out I was hired there. I quit with notice at the diner on my very last day on the job. The GM shook my hand and told me I was always welcome to come back and work for him.

Anytime at this diner or anywhere else he worked. And that’s it. Like I said, it was one of the worst jobs I had, but the benefits were great. Oh yeah. I didn’t tell you about that. The best benefit that this job had for me is that I ended up marrying one of my coworkers. Can you believe that in that short little span of just a few months at a 1950s diner with a job that I didn’t like, and I made crappy money, I ended up meeting a coworker who eventually became my wife.

We got married almost exactly one year later and had five kids together. And we’re still married today. And in case you were wondering her name at the diner was Priscilla over 16 years later, Wally and Priscilla are still very much in love just a few years ago. I actually took my entire family back to that same diner where we met.

We ordered dinner and fries and milkshakes. And I tipped my waitress. Well, it was fun to show the place to the kids, but I wasn’t sad to leave. And as we opened the door to walk away, it was bittersweet to hear someone shout out, see you later, alligator. Thanks for listening.

If you liked this episode of Micron (or even if you didn’t), let me know! I’m always open to feedback, including questions, comments, and episode suggestions. Send an email to feedback@https://ronstauffer.com/micron. You can also leave a review on Apple Podcasts here, which would be super-helpful as I try to grow the reach of the show. Thanks!

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