All About Joe

I don't think I've ever written much about any of my past jobs, not in detail anyway. Not too exciting I guess, but one person in my working career does stand out. His name is Joe.

Mostly I have worked as a waitress, from fast food to a full service family owned joint. There was a short time I worked as a maid at an X-rated motel but that's a whole other post for another day.

After the fast food joint, the motel, and another restaurant that folded up, I was on the search for another job. I had probably only been married a few years and the owners of this place was Italian, so maybe that helped. Family owned since 1936, I was given a trial period upon hire. I guess I fumbled around enough to make it through lunches and was finally put on the night shift. Not as busy as lunch but Friday nights could be brutal. When the place was busy I usually had help but over the years business had slowed and I was the only one on duty.

It was me, a cook, dishwasher and Joe the second generation owner. We got along great and over the 8 years I worked there we just had an unspoken bond. My own Dad had passed away just a few years prior so I kind of took Joe on as my surrogate; not that he knew that though. He called me Baby as an endearment, as my own Dad had called me Babe. And I like to think that he thought of me as one of his favorite kids, without the drama. He had three kids; one boy a few years older than me who worked there but was prone to break-downs and temper tantrums. His oldest, a girl who also worked there and was an out-and-out bitch, and the youngest who didn't work there, was sweet like me :-) His wife, Margaret worked occasionally and I know where the eldest got her personality. I didn't like her at all, she was snooty and thought she was the upper crust of the Italian pizza. And poor Joe had to act like Mr. Margaret when she was around.

We worked well together. If he wasn't in the kitchen he was out front helping me and always had my back. He'd wait tables with me and always left me the tip. One night he threw out an overly inebriated man who grabbed my wrist. He didn't get too mad when I was bamboozled by a guy who needed to go to his car to 'get something', after he'd eaten and hadn't paid yet. He never came back. I was a bit too trusting at times.

When he turned 65 the entire staff, friends, and family threw him a big party. Hubby and I wrote a poem for him and I painstakingly typed it over and over to get it just right (no computer back then) and then framed it. I think it meant a lot to him.

Hubby reading the poem standing next to his once hot wife with Miss Margie
behind me. Don't let her smile fool you, I think she may have a knife.
Joe with his nice daughter
Toward the end of the 8 years is when my husband was trying to get his massage business off the ground. I was working days for him and nights with Joe, and I was getting tired and burned out. I gave my two weeks in the summertime, either '91 or '92.

I knew there would be no fanfare or party, Margaret wouldn't go for that. So just like any Friday night Hubby and I went into the bar for one last drink with Joe. Neither one of us could say it but just looking at our faces told it; we were going to miss each other terribly. When the bar closed, the cranky old German bartender Monica got strict instructions from Margaret to send Joe straight home. They had the luxury of living right upstairs from the restaurant. There were three floors of apartments up there, much nicer than one would think. There was an elevator from the basement of the restaurant that went straight up, so going outside to the apartment entrance wasn't necessary.

After we said our holding-back-tears goodbye we went out to our car and Joe got on the elevator to go up. He then came back down and snuck out the back door. Oooooo, Margaret was going to be pissed!! We sat in car for a few minutes, not really wanting to leave because I was crying, when we saw Joe walking down the street! We pulled up and he got in. We hit several more bars before they closed and then finally dropped him back off at the restaurant. It was so much fun, we had the best going away party ever and it was made even sweeter knowing that Little Miss Margie was left fuming at home.

I went back a week later to pick up my last check although a little afraid she would be there. We had a good laugh and I could tell that whatever trouble he got into was totally worth it. I saw him just a few times after that, probably once when I was pregnant and once when our daughter was maybe 3. I may have called him once too but getting past the Sergeant was always tricky so I never tried again. For many years I had dreams about working there but not always pleasant. It always seemed to be busy and I was trying to keep up and woke up tired, or I was fighting with the oldest daughter. Some dreams were good though and it made me miss Joe even more. Last week I woke up at 2:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. He popped into my mind for some reason and that's when I decided to write about him. He's probably in his mid 80's by now and I'm sure that Margaret is still ruling the roost. The old Italian restaurant closed and was leased to others for awhile and in 1993 the entire building was sold for 1.7 million and is now on the historic registry. It is an impressive building.

I may have never had glamorous jobs in my life but working with Joe will always make that job one of my favorites. Oh, I just found this picture on the oldest daughter's FB page! This was in 2010 when he turned 80 and next to him is his Mama, who turned 100 last year. I'd still like to remember him from our younger years--I looked better then too :-)


Grumpy said…
So many people pass in and out of all our lives. It's nice to remember the good ones.
fernvalley01 said…
what wonderful memories of such a sweet boss and friend! and that building!! wow glad it will be maintained
Mr. Shife said…
Great story, kden, and such wonderful memories to have. It's amazing who has a lasting impact on our lives. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your weekend.
bill said…
A nice warm story from your treasure trove, so well told.

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