BY GLORIA FAYE BROWN BATES
I was nineteen, a pretty girl with a happy smile and I was glad to be around ... people! I had left the North Carolina mountains to come back home to Raleigh. I wanted to be around people, lights, town... yes, I was happy 'to be home'!
I was isolated living in those mountains... fourteen miles from both towns I lived between. I'd never been left alone in my entire life.. I was abused, mistreated as a child... but, I'd never been left alone. I had gotten married too young... I ran away to marry a man... at that time he was a 'God' to me. I was too young, and he was 'too worldly'... he loved lots of women.
I was younger, he told me what to do and, he left me all alone in the countryside, while he'd be gone. I'd never been in the countryside before going there to live. It terrified me... I wanted to go back to town to live where there were lights to warm my soul, light my path... to keep the darkness away. I was afraid of the dark.... I had grown up knowing 'things happen in the dark!' I was left me alone for days and nights. That's very scary for a 16 year old girl who was used to living in town, around people at all times.
I needed a job, and I decided to apply at Shoney's. I was thinking in terms of salary plus tips... I would make good tips! I went there, talked to the manager, and filled out my application. I knew I had the job before leaving because, she asked me to come to work the next day.
I'd never worked, never had to work. I wanted to work and learn how to take care of myself. All of this lasted .... one day! You wouldn't believe what could happen in just.... one day.
I showed up early for my new job with expectations of having a fun day on a new job... one I'd gotten all by myself. I had all kinds of plans in my mind now, I was going to make my own money. I was living at my mother's home, and soon.... I wanted to get my own place. This is what I had in mind ...until...........................
The manager was a very nice woman, she liked me but, I am sure she hated my guts when that night came! I'm sure she wished I'd never come in to apply for that job.
I was smiling brightly with happiness at all the other waitresses, and waiter. They were all smiling back at me! I 'knew' I was going to like it here. I was shown how to carry a giant tray that was 'bigger than I was'... with plates of food, saucers of pie (that strawberry pie sure looked good!).
The dishes on that tray that I had to carry were big, thick, heavy dishes. I was strong, young.... but, the weight was almost too much for me! Not only that... that terra cotta tile floor was too slippery to walk on!
The customers liked me, they were giving me lots of tips. I loved hearing the coins rattling as I dropped more in my pocket. What I loved best were the dollar bills, and five dollar bills that were silently stuck in my pocket! This was in that one day!
There was one thing that disturbed me early that day when I took my first break. My feet were really hurting from walking on that terra cotta tile floor. I was shown to the employee breakroom, I immediately sat down to rest my feet. I was alone at the table, and since no one was in there... I decided to take my shoes off (they were new, white and like the ones worn by nurses).
When I took those shoes off, the pain seemed to get more intense! They tingled. I closed my eyes and began to slowly rub my left foot with my right foot. It felt so good sitting there, rubbing my feet like that. I had on stockings, and the silkiness of the stockings made it easy to slide my feet against the other!
I still had my eyes closed, rubbing my feet and was 'in another world' one where my feet were...... hurting and feeling good..... at the same time! I heard a soft voice behind me coming from the doorway!
"Baby, keep on rubbing your feet, rub them, rub them!' The soft, voice sounded excited, it came from one of the male waiters! I stopped rubbing my feet, I was embarassed as I turned around to see ..... 'what in the hell!' I couldn't believe my eyes... that waiter was standing there 'humping his hand!'
I'd never seen such, much less knew what he was doing. I knew he was in the throes of passion by the way he moved quickly! I wanted out of there. He was moaning as I ran quickly past him, back up the dim hallway to the door leading into the dining area!
Each time I was standing behind the counter to bend over to get something... I would feel pressure on my backside! That male waiter would be rubbing up against me! It began to upset me greatly, though I kept smiling. I didn't like this! He would mumble words to me that I couldn't understand. I began to feel there was 'something bad wrong' with this guy.... I began to keep my distance, he found a way to keep invading my personal space.
I had gotten the hang of what to do... when disaster struck. When disaster struck, it set off a chain of events that 'ended my wonderful career as a Shoney waitress! The male waiter 'was the beginning!'
I was moving quickly carrying the huge tray with one hand, it was loaded with those big, thick, heavy saucers. Each saucer held a big piece of strawberry pie.... I meant to have some of that later! The weight of it all was pressing my hand 'down', I was hurrying and that slippery floor made me slip.....
Oh..... my.... God! I watched as that big tray left my hand, I tried to stop it! I watched those big, thick, heavy saucers fly through the air spreading.... red strawberry pie 'everywhere'! I was so embarassed, so in pain, so 'wanting to melt into the floor'.... the noise it all made!
Red, strawberry pie on everything, on the countertop... broken, white pieces of the saucers were stuck here and there in that strawberry pie! I heard people gasping wondering 'what in the __ just happened.... they couldn't see me! But... they did when I began to raise up from my knee! I don't think anyone asked me 'if I was okay'... but, I heard the manager's voice as she came running toward ............................. Oh ....my..... God!
Down she went! She went sliding down on that slippery floor and slid up to me.... strawberry pie on her! I looked at her in horror! I knew she was dead! Someone yelled "call the ambulance!" I was asking, begging her to be okay! She just laid there! I wanted to leave! I stayed.
The ambulance came, they loaded her into the truck and took her away.... I was left there not knowing what to do. I began to help clean up the mess, all the while that same male waiter stayed behind me.... mumbling!
I could understand what he was saying now! He kept saying "It's your fault! It's your fault she's hurt!" This only made how I felt worse.... and the knowledge that 'now'... I knew he was 'crazy'!
Just before my shift ended.... a call came. The manager's leg was broken, she wouldn't be back for a while! When I left that Shoney's restaurant that day.... I knew I wasn't coming back either! I never got paid for that day.... what was worse.........
I never got any of that strawberry pie!