Once established in our cozy digs, my friend and I began increasingly to move in separate directions, as we both had divergent interests while in the metropolis. My curiosities were centered around the recent unrest at Columbia University in Harlem as well as the New York State presidential primary which was scheduled for June 18 of that year. I was also, however, determined to find employment, albeit temporary, somewhere in Manhattan.
With respect to the latter consideration, within a few days I chanced upon a position as a waiter at a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant at 415 – 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village. In most ways, I was amply qualified for the job as the previous summer I had worked as a “garcon de table” on the Canadian Pacific run between Montreal and Winnipeg and, I thought, if one can serve meals on a moving train, then one can wait on a customer in almost any other situation!
I state “in most ways” because in one regard I was clearly not particularly adept – that of mixing alcoholized drinks. More often than not, my fellow waiters would come to my rescue whenever one was ordered but every now and then, they were all preoccupied with their own tables, leaving me on my own. It goes without saying that I saw some pretty confounded visages when I presented to customers my personally concocted beverages !
In passing, I should say that more often than not I worked the restaurant’s late shift. Once out of the diner, the subway jaunt back to the hotel on the Upper West Side took all of thirty minutes, requiring a single change of trains at Columbus Circle and then a four block walk from the station at 72nd Street. Nonetheless, even though I was travelling the underground at all hours of the night, I never once felt in any danger.