Breakfast at the Diner

There really wasn’t much opportunity for a woman in those days. I left my apartment and rode the N train downtown to my secretarial job each morning, rain or shine. The work was typically dull. They didn’t trust a woman with anything much beyond typing, filing, and getting coffee. And running to the cleaners, can’t forget that one.

I should have said most days. There was one day when I just couldn’t face Mr. Whaley or his favorite question about why I wasn’t engaged to some fine young man who would take care of me—like his nephew. The thought of young Herbert Whaley still makes my skin crawl, I tell you. Ugh. His uncle just couldn’t seem to put it together that none of the secretaries had any interest in Herbie.

But one morning I was running late and missed my train. The truth was I was daydreaming on the bench. Thinking about places I’d like to see, things I’d like to do. I liked to read travel books and imagine myself going to Madrid, Paris, London, or Rome. I was a real dreamer, I guess. Wishing I could save money from my little secretarial job, pack a suitcase, and set sail for Europe. Ha!

Since I was already late, I stopped in the corner diner and got breakfast before heading upstairs. Mel’s Diner was reasonably crowded; it usually was at that time. I wondered if anyone would notice my absence. Maybe I would get fired. The thought thrilled me for a moment. What would I do if I got fired? I was a good secretary. Maybe I’d find a new job. Maybe I’d move to California. Maybe … deep down I knew I wasn’t going to get fired. Even if I was, I could hold my nose and let Herbie take me to the motion pictures to make up for my tardiness. I thought I could. Maybe.

The radio was on in the diner and they interrupted “On the Sunny Side of the Street” for a news report. Apparently a civil war had just broken out in Spain led by some General Franco—no one I knew had ever heard of him before. War? I mentally crossed Madrid off my places to go for the time being and added Berlin. Maybe I’d have enough money in a year or two and I could tour Europe.

Cheered up by the thought, I left Mel’s and headed upstairs to the office.


Photo is linked via The Heart of Writing.

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