The very first paying, “professional” job I ever had back in high school was at a greasy old steak house on Highway 80 on the dusty, east side of Abilene, Texas. The place was called Towne Crier. The building was a Tudor-style structure and the dark interior, lined with faded vinyl booths, smelled of oily food, baked potatoes and seared meat. No one I knew had ever eaten there before. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good place to work. Apparently the restaurant has been around since 1966. I honestly can’t believe it’s still there but it is.
My duties basically involved me busing tables, prepping food and washing dishes. I had long-ish hair back then that was matted with sweat as I hurriedly rushed from table to table, cleaning and clearing to make way for the Sunday after-Church crowd. I remember wiping butter all over raw potatoes before wrapping them in foil and putting them on large oven trays, ready for cooking. I remember cutting up head after head of iceburg lettuce, dumping the shredded leaves into an industrial-size garbage can filled with ice water and bleach. I stirred the contents with my bare arm. It would be numb afterwards. The sharp razor blade contraption that cut the lettuce used to get clogged and I would have to reach up under it and pull lettuce out of the grid. The blades always cut my fingers. By the time I was ready to go home, I was exhausted and penniless. I didn’t even make enough money to eat lunch there, subsisting on the free rolls and honey they offered customers. The rest of the waiting staff were snooty girls from Abilene High. Everybody seemed to know each other and never really talked to me. The only bright spot about working at the Towne Crier is that it at least got me out of going to the Kingdom Hall on Sunday mornings! (“Uh, yeah, gotta work, Mom”). I hear now that’s changed. Apparently the owners have closed the restaurant on Sundays.
I only lasted at Towne Crier for about two weeks. My friend Chuck got a job working at Baskin-Robbins and I bothered him about getting me on there. It was a much more cush job and the perks were pretty extensive (free ice cream, pretty girls visiting). Still didn’t make any godamed money though!