Monday, June 11, 2012

Two Lane Highway

When Ms. SpoolTeacher was about sixteen, her older sister got her a job at Der Wienerschnitzel (and in those days it was Der).
By that time, she already had a driver's license and a beat up old Chevy Two that she adored.
It was a box, but it got her to wherever she wanted to go, alone, without begging Mom to drive the Rambler.

A few years later, it started looking ever more like a Nova until it finally became one.

Der Wienerschnitzel was about ten or twelve miles from their home and in those days, the drive was unencumbered. It was a long and winding two lane road. You could literally drive the whole trip without seeing another vehicle. Now days, it is a steady stream of bumper to bumper. It was then a two lane "highway" until you got to a merge point where it opened up. On the way back it was always fun to race any other vehicle you might come into contact with to see who could get to the merge first and be ahead on the one lane drive. Most of the time, though they would speed up and pass even after missing the merge contest (and that was scary because passing was high speed and in the oncoming lane).

She has very fond memories of that job. It was her first real job. Up to then it had been babysitting, sewing for others and after-school program jobs. 

There was one of the first "serve yourself" gas stations in the next lot and an older man and woman lived there as attendants.
One day when teen-aged Ms. SpoolTeacher was feeling a little under the weather, the man brought her over a cup of tea and a spoon full of honey. It was just that kind of time.

Der Wienerschnitzel was only a drive through or walk-up counter then, and the owner spent many days up in the loft overhead sleeping while his workers worked. He was a very nice man and even pierced Ms. ST's ears. His daughter was there with him often, but she didn't work with them.

Girls all wore white nurse type uniforms and white cloddy shoes and had to have their hair up in a bun or under a net. Ms. ST wore a "wiglet" with curls, her hair pinned up under it.

One worker would go out with a stack of white paper company bags on a clipboard and take orders on the backs of them if the line got backed up. No speaker to talk into.
It was fun, because you really got to see the people and talk.
Then back in to help speed up the orders.

They were all allowed to drink and eat as much as they wanted, and believe me, they did. They even had contests to see who could eat the most hot dogs in a day.
Ms. SpoolTeacher loved the polish sausage sandwiches and would make one up special and put it in the "bun warmer" to melt the cheese and soften the rye bread. Melt in your mouth good and full, full, full of fat, fat, fat.
Yes, she did put on a few pounds and had to start the roller coaster ride trying to manage weight from then on out. But they did have a lot of fun and she really got her taste of independence.

She quickly got promoted over her sister. Her sister didn't show much resentment, just didn't take long finding a better job. Ms. ST was kind of a goodie-two-shoes, was sensible, responsible and was a parent-pleaser. Go figure.

The area was poor and there was always a sense of vulnerability. The couple next door were a securing element because they really kept an eye out. They were safely behind bullet proof glass and were locked in unless they chose to come out.
Ms. SpoolTeacher's sister got held up at gunpoint once and they never felt safe again.
Ms. ST had one encounter where a regular character came around and mimicked a gun toter, making her think twice and her heart pop out. She thought that was really mean.

But she remembers to this day the little black boy that stood there at the counter looking in at her and finally said, "Lady, you got skinny face" (as if she didn't know).
To this day, people feel a real need to let her know that, as if she still doesn't know by now.

You know, you get what you get. Not too much you can do about face structure other than having your jaw broken and major surgery.

Just like everything else, you have to do the best with what you have. When she sees pictures of her maternal grandfather, she sees herself. And that's not all bad. Makes her feel like she got to know him, even though he died before she was born. There he is in her face. Cool.

"Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone." ~Jim Fiebig

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