something I found in my documents:
Before I moved to North Carolina in 1995, I worked at Bank of Boston in Springfield, MA. I applied to work at banks in Jacksonville, but by that time, my credit was shot, and I didn’t qualify for employment with them. So, I tried anything else I could get. I went to daycares and stores, then I found this little country restaurant called Helen’s Kitchen.
I walked in when the restaurant was almost empty. A single bell dinged against the glass door and the warmth of the dining area contrasted against the cool February air in 1996. My nose was greeted with the smell of hot bacon and warm biscuits, and the afternoon sun illuminated the cigarette smoke that waved around the room.
I was greeted with the kindest smile worn by a man named Billy Grisset.
“Hihowareyou?” he said, telling me to take a seat across from him.
“I’m great,” I lied. I felt my winter palms sweat as the conversation began. “The sign on the door says you’re hiring. I’ve always wanted to try waitressing.” I told him how I was new in town and used to be a bank teller.
“Oh, we’re all set with waitresses. We need a dishwasher. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to do that,” he said, never losing his warm smile. “Want to see the rest of the place?”
“Sure,” I said, becoming quite sure I wanted to be a part of it.
The small, rectangular dining room we were in was not the only one. He showed me through an average sized doorway into another dining room, more sun, less smoke.
“This is our non-smoking room.”
“Oh, ok,” I said.
He then led me through a doorway off of the room which rested opposite the front door I came in, and there was a small room only lighted by fluorescent splendor. It had a refrigerator and was decorated with fifty or so plastic pitchers, some yellow, some navy-blue.
“Those are for our tea,” Billy said.
My eyes lingered on the pitchers and I placed my Massachusetts’ confusion in my mind’s closet.
He then led me back even more to another room, this one bigger. Stainless steel was the theme of this room with its large angular metal sinks and counters of steel as well.
“That’s where you would wash dishes,” he said pointing to the sinks at the left. We walked further to the back of the restaurant and I noticed a back door with a coffee can full of cigarette butts. We turned left and there was the heart of the place, the stoves and grease baskets. More stainless steel. Even though the place had been around for years, and it could have used some cosmetic work, it was clean and shiny, and Billy was proud.
“I really want to be part of this place. It’s different than what I am used to. I think I can learn about the South here, do something different,” I said.
“Well, you have the job then,” Billy said. “I’ll have to run it by Mama, of course,” he said. “But, I’m sure she’ll say yes.”
I called him the next day and he confirmed that I had the job. I was so excited, and completely terrified.