As told to Chris Nichols by Anne Marie Wozniak
I get up at 4:20 in the morning and am at work a little before 6 so I can have my breakfast. You don’t want to be around me if I don’t have breakfast. I drink my coffee black. I can always tell who’s going to order coffee, and I always make sure their cup is full.
When I first get on the floor, I’ll go around the whole restaurant and make sure everyone is OK, even if it’s not my station. You don’t want somebody to feel forgotten. If you host a dinner at your house, you wouldn’t go in the other room and watch TV. One time I was busy and noticed a lady with an empty cup. It wasn’t even my table, but I asked if I could get her a refill. She said, “Thank you so much” and gave me $20. There are some people who you’re not going to please, but you always give them good service. If you just go in looking for tips, you shouldn’t be there.
“You don’t have to go out on Wall Street and make 500K a year. You need plumbers and garbage collectors and all kinds of people to make up this world.”
I’m a people person. I’m not good with computers. I’m not a sitting person. I like to move. I have a master’s in criminal justice. My aunt had been a short-order cook at Thrifty drugstore in South-Central and got me a job at the lunch counter. I was there a couple of years while I was in school then got the job at Denny’s. I thought it was short-term, but I ended up staying for 42 years. I’m proud of the work I do. So many people today are focused on college instead of a trade school. You don’t have to go out on Wall Street and make 500K a year. You need plumbers and garbage collectors and all kinds of people to make up this world.
Each table is a new kind of experience. We have teenagers coming in late at night. We have people who interview clients and use it as an office. We have people with no family where we’re their social outlet. Sometimes we get someone who comes in on their birthday, and they’re by themselves, and we sing “Happy Birthday.” It’s sad.
I had a two-year-old kid the other day who wanted broccoli. We never had a wide variety of vegetables before, but people are more health-conscious now. In the old days you just took it the way it was. Things change, but the basics are the same.
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