Cadillacs in our dreams

So when I was 16, I had a short-lived stint at Shoney’s as a salad bar attendant. I’ve never worked that hard in my life on a consistent basis. I didn’t do well for several reasons.

My trainer was a woman who was ancient when Christ was born.[1] I felt so sorry for her, working herself to death at this shitty job. Shouldn’t she have moved up and on by now? She was nice, more inclined toward talking than training.

Anyway, I think I might have been gauche/crass enough to ask her why she was doing this job. She told me she was saving up to buy her husband a brand-new Cadillac. In cash. The fact that it was for her husband gave me pause, but I went with it.

She was almost at her savings goal and she could quit the job in six months. She told me this with the excitement of a kid twitching to get out of his room on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought. Now, to me, that was a worthy but totally overwhelming goal (I had yet to get my first paycheck) and I went about my work, stunned and awed and humbled. That she only had six months to go was a feat of astronomical proportions.

I went home with that tale. My dad sneered. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life working at Shoney’s so you can save up to buy a car in cash?”

We lived in the ghetto. It wasn’t like we had a dime to our names. I went to bed chastened. Possibly in tears. Because there was something wrong with what he said, but I didn’t know what, and all I really wanted when I was that age was my dad’s approval.

I approved of her goal but I didn’t know why. I kept my opinion to myself.

Her name was Hazel.

[1] Huh. Seems my mentors are cantankerous old women.

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