Saturday, May 2, 2009

How The Flu Helped Get Me To College

In the words of Sophia of the Golden Girls, “Picture It” the year was 1965. 

I was a 17-year-old school senior at Yerington High School in Yerington, Nevada.  I had been working as a waitress 
after school and on weekends for two years at John’s Cafe.  John’s Cafe was the town’s main restaurant, and one block from the high school. All the teens and town folks hung out there.  After high school, I had plans to attend college, and needed to earn as much money as I could.  So one day I muster every ounce of  courage and asked my boss, John Young, “When I graduate from high school, can I get what the other waitresses are making?” You see high school students could be hired at $1.00 per hour, but minimum wage at the time was $1.15 per hour.  John had been drinking that day and became very insulting to me for asking for a raise. I quit, and my brother, Dan, who was working as a dishwasher, also walked out with me.

Now quitting a job in our little town of under 5,000 people was very serious.  First off, there not many jobs to be had, and second off, everyone knows everyone and a bad reference could be equal to being blackballed. You might never get a job in that town again. I just knew that I would be going to college completely broke.  I was heartbroken.

 However, as luck would have it (or should I say as catastrophe would have it?), a serious flu epidemic hit our town.  My mother, a nurse and hospital administrator, was out of town at a hospital convention.  I was left in charge of my two brothers and sister in her absence.  The flu hit all three of them, as well as most of our classmates.  I spent days playing Nancy Nurse to them. They closed the school for a week, as they are doing now. I was one of the few in our town who did not get the flu.  I never understood why.  On the same day that my mother returned home from the hospital convention, I received a call from John Young.  Apparently most of his waitresses had the flu as well. He was asking me to come back to work, and yes he would give me my raise. I worked for John’s Cafe up to the day I left for college.

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