As we write these stories about the ordinary happenings of my life I
can't help but think back to the very first people that I did a steady
job for. They were Jewish, and if you took the family from "Fiddler
On the Roof" and put them in a restaurant you'd have the exact same people!
Try as I may I couldn't pronounce the father's real name. The closest
I could come to it was Josh. He couldn't say my name right, either.
Instead of saying Gerald he said Yearald.
He often said that he wished I was Yiddish because he'd marry me to his daughter, and the mother was always saying I was such a good boy for a Yentile, which I learned later was their way of saying Gentile, or, non-Jew.
Josh taught me the work ethic I have used all my life. He said, "Yearald, if you do the job right the first time, you don't have to go back and do it again. And always keep busy! An employer that has to find things for you to do will not be happy with you."
I have always tried to follow that advice. Most of the time I spent working for Josh was happy time. There was only one really frightening experience. They had a cook named Samuel who had been with them many years. He was all right, but sometimes got really confused. I was working in the kitchen one morning getting ready for the lunch rush when I heard Samuel going "Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!" I turned around to see that the entire cooking area was on fire! The cook just kept standing there, going "Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!"
This was before the days of automatic fire suppression systems. I ran over, threw the frying baskets out of the fryolators into the sink, shoved a sheet pan on top of them, then grabbed a fire extinguisher and began to attack the rest of the fire.
Fortunately I'd been a volunteer and knew how to use one. I kept screaming for Samuel to get another fire extinguisher because I was afraid the one I had would give out before I got the fire out, but he just kept standing there going "Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!"
By some miracle I got the fire out with the one extinguisher. But there was still some concern it might have gotten up into the exhaust system, so we called the fire department to check it out.
The Fire Chief praised my efforts but Samuel kept running around the kitchen saying "He ruined the lunch! He ruined the lunch!" Finally the boss grabbed him, shook him, saying "Shut up! He saved the restaurant! Shut up!"
When the fire department said it was o.k. we lit the stoves back up and found what had ignited the fire...a greasy rag had caught fire and it had spread to the fryolators. It took, and it had spread to the fryolators. It took several days for Samuel and I to get back on speaking terms but eventually he started fixing me special little dishes for lunch. And the rest of the summer was an enjoyable time, though it got off to a fiery start!
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