March 1983

curvy elephant 1Things are good at the hotel and at Swensen’s, where I work both as a waitress and as a supervisor part time. The guy they hired instead of me as the regular supervisor is still there, but he can’t work all the shifts, so they needed another manager who can close out the restaurant and open on the weekends.  I work weekdays in the sales office at Ramada, so nights and weekends at the restaurant are good for me. Some nights while I’m closing, Lou comes by early to pick me up and he often makes his own sundae while waiting. I like having him there while I close, since it’s a little intimidating counting out the register alone late at night. It’s an easy job most of the time though, and I like all the people who work here. The only thing about being both a manager and a waitress is that I am privy to details about employees because I’m a waitress that I wouldn’t know as a manager. I know who sneaks off to get high and where they do it and when. I finally had to confront one of the cooks, and tell him he can’t do it while I’m on as supervisor, because I need my job, and I’d get fired if anything happened while they were getting high and I hadn’t done anything about the smoking. After that discussion I didn’t smell the weed anymore, so either he stopped or he found another place to do it. I don’t care as long as I don’t have to know about it, and as long as he keeps showing up for work and cooking well. One time a cook was a no-show, and I had to run the kitchen on my own until someone else finally came in. That’s a stressful job – I don’t think I could do it high. I guess he couldn’t do it straight. One of our waitresses is really sweet, but she is painfully thin, and refuses to eat regular food. Sometimes she just gets a cup of Bleu Cheese salad dressing and eats that. She’s always cold, and wears knee socks and sweaters even when it’s hot. I swear my arm is bigger than her leg. Anyway, shortly after Karen Carpenter died, one of the customers confronted her point blank about her weight, and asked if she realized that she was too thin, and that was why Karen was dead. The poor waitress was horrified and hid in the back crying until they left. The customer was probably right, but it wasn’t really her place to say anything. It’s ironically like an elephant in the room that you can’t ignore but don’t know what to say about, so I just try to be nice and be an empathetic ear for her. I know her family is all over her about not eating. She doesn’t need to hear it from me too.

I have found time to also audit an accounting course at night at UNC in Chapel Hill. The wife of a guy in Lou’s class was taking the course and suggested I join her. The professor is really nice, and lets me sit in the class and take the tests even though I’m not actually a student. I’ve done really well so far, and it’s a nice change for me to be back in the classroom once in a while. I have an advantage, though, because I studied the material when Lou took accounting. He likes having me give him quizzes and review material together, and I learn a lot in the process. I don’t help him study for all his classes though. His management game class was one I didn’t like to be anywhere near, because there was too much drama around the whole thing. The class was broken down into teams of companies, and everyone on the team had a position in the organization. Lou was initially a friend of the guy who was his team’s company President. But Lou soon didn’t agree with how the team was being managed, the decisions being made, and the presentations to the executive board. So Lou basically got the guy demoted, and took over as President. The team was really divided on what to do; the change was finally made just so they could move on, but in the end, they still didn’t do well, and he actually got his first Low Pass grade in that class. He does feel that they would have done great if he had been President from the start.

Now, the focus is on Lou finding a job. We rented a typewriter like the one I have at work. It has a memory in it, so I can type a standard form letter and store it with automatic stops in certain places so I can type in a company’s name and address and maybe something specific about the job he is applying for, and then it takes off again. We got tons of letters out. He’s gotten tons of rejection letters back already too, and he keeps tacking them up on the walls in the bedroom by his desk. Not my idea of decorating. I don’t know why he wants to look at them all the time, but he says it keeps him focused. Personally, I’d find it depressing. He wants to get a job in Operations Management at a manufacturing company. One of my regular customers I talk to all the time at the Ramada Inn set up a dinner meeting for Lou and me to meet with some operations people from his company to give him some suggestions about how to find a position in their field. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any openings, but they said he should get involved with APICS, which is a professional society for manufacturing people. I was hoping they would actually have a job for him, but I’m confident something will work out soon.

I’m planning to go back to college, hopefully into a hospitality and culinary bachelor’s degree program, so I studied for and took the SAT so I am ready to start quickly. I did well, since I’m generally a good test taker. For a lot of reasons, I am anxious to get back into school. I want my parents to see that I could finish up what I started. When I graduated from community college, my folks gave me a little gold star necklace. I felt like a star then, but here at Duke, I feel like I am at such a lower status level from everyone else. When I meet professors and other students in the MBA program, they almost always first ask where I went to college, then ask what I do for work. Neither of my answers to those questions is impressive, so I usually joke around and say, “I’m getting my PHT degree – aka Putting Hubby Through.”  They laugh, and seem to appreciate all the work it takes for us to get through financially. But I feel like they just move on pretty quickly and don’t really have any interest in getting to know me because of my education status. I wouldn’t dare tell them I dropped out of high school and had a GED.

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