Sunday, July 27, 2014


If you ever went to Luminarias, the restaurant I worked at for four years right after High School, you might remember that there was a long lonely stretch of road, Ben Street, just before you got to the restaurant. It was about two blocks long, no houses, just rugged terrain and grassland that is common to what they call “The Tandy Hills” along highway 30 between Beach and Oakland.

In 1977, I was a cook at Luminarias. I’d worked there about 2 years. I came in one morning with a billfold full of cash because when I got off I was going to buy a plane ticket to go to Rapid City to see my brother. There was a small dressing room where I changed into my chef uniform, and a locker where I kept my clothes. This particular morning, I took off my clothes, set my billfold in the bottom of my locker, and stepped into a stall to take a piss.

As I was taking a piss, the dishwasher came in. His name wasOC, and he was about half blind, and loved to sing the blues while he washed dishes.
This morning he was singing “Got to find me a part time love, hmmm, lord, I just got to find me a part time love” as he came into the dressing room.
”Good Morning OC” I said from the stall.
“Good morning” he said back. I heard his locker open and close, and out he went.

I finished my piss, came out, finished getting dressed and then…shit…my billfold! It was gone! I looked in the locker, I checked my pockets, and then…SHIT!
OC! That damn OC!
I went running out of the dressing room, past the dish room, and then to the back door where OC is now out on the dock by the dumpster.
“OC, you bastard, gimme my billfold back!”
“What you talkin’ ‘bout?” was OC’s reply.

Well, I checked the dumpster, I looked down the hill, I did everything but search OC. Now-a-days, it might have made sense to call the cops, but back then, it just didn’t seem like it would do much good. I was out a hundred bucks, big money for a guy making 2.75 an hour back then. Shoot, its big enough these days.

Anyway, I made it to South Dakota, and when I got back I made it a point to turn OC’s life into a living hell anyway I could. I came in one morning, and I started messing up pots as quick as I could, taking them to OC and telling him I needed them NOW!

I’m writing it down right now, and I got to tell you I’m not real proud of it,but its my story, right?

It took a while, but poor half blind OC finally reacted. Sometime around lunchtime, he had had enough of me.
He pushed me, and I pushed him back. Then he swung at me, and I dodged the punch. Then he come at me, the way a half blind deranged mad as hell professional wrestler might come at you and I went to kick him.
But poor blind old OC was too fast for me. He grabbed my leg! Now He’s got me by the leg, and he’s running me into the wall backwards! A shelf got knocked over, dishes flying everywhere, and me flat on my back on the floor, my glasses off! Now I’m just as blind as OC, and even more helpless because I’ve never been in a fight in my life, but in a blurry haze I see him reach into a dish tray and pull out a steak knife.

What did I do? I went running breathlessly, straight out into the middle of the dining room, customers looking up from their lunch, and I’m right next to a table where the Chef and General Manager are eating. They looked up at me, and I’m GASPING for breath.
“Whats wrong Steve?”
“OC…OC… he come at me with a knife!” I tell them.

And that is how OC came to be fired on the spot, dragged kicking and screaming from the dish room,vowing to “Kill my white ass”.
And how I came to dread that two block stretch of lonely Ben Street just before you get to the restaurant every morning for a while.

Addendum~ A year later I was promoted to chef. We put an ad in the paper for a dishwasher.
Guess who applied?
Yep, OC came in, looking for a job.
And you know what?
I hired him.
Just another thing to love about the restaurant business.

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