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General News

Greek-American Stories: Now Hiring

Grigori Grigoriou had opened up a small diner at an insignificant location by the piers of Manhattan. Cheap rent and the few small factories nearby promised customers – hopefully. He planned a simple menu at first, hoping to add more to the list when more money rolled in and more customers showed up.

His first problem was hiring help. He had had a sign outside his window for days now. No one had showed up yet. That kept him busy until a young, skinny, tall, African-American bounced in holding the sign, “I’m your mon.” Strong, white teeth dazzled in a wide smile. Grigori looked up, dubious. Thinking of the dishes piled up in the small sink, the floor needing mopping, he agreed to hire him, “Not forever! I’m…waiting for help from an agency,” he lied. “What you name?”

“Tyrone. Wot’s yours?” Being new at diner owning Grigori didn’t know if he was being impertinent or if that’s the way hired help introduced themselves. He responded, “Mr. Grigori Grigoriou.”

“Oh, mon, that’s a mouthful. I’ll call you Mr. G. You c’n call me, Ty, O.K.?” His mind in a whirl, he agreed, beginning to wonder what to expect from him. “Ahh, Ty! You got dishes in the sink, a floor to mop, and then, maybe, we close.” With a brief salute Ty sashayed into the small kitchen and began tackling the dishes, singing a bouncy tune: “…boss mon got me busy, Ty gonna eat tonight…” Oh, God! thought Grigori. Just then, a hefty, white man with gray eyes and heavy jowls stepped in and ordered coffee. He slid onto the stool and looked around. He heard Ty’s singing.

“See you got someone inside workin’ f’r you. Who is he?” Setting down the hot coffee, Grigori shrugged. “He joost com in a few minutes ago. I need help!”

“I c’n understand that! But, he’s Jamaican, y’ know. Those dred-locks!” He stared at Grigori, waiting for a reaction. None came. He continued, “They’re big trouble, mister. He’ll rob and, maybe…kill you before he leaves. Get rid of him before he gets rid of you.” Grigori listened, then told him, “I wait for agency. Tomorrow, maybe, somebody come. I need help now,” explained Grigori, taking a dish rag and wiping the spotless counter. But, the customer insisted, “You’re not goin’ t’get customers with him around. I’m just tellin’ ya, so you know.” Grigori nodded, vigorously, and thanked him. After paying, he got up and left. Three more customers sauntered in, ordered sandwiches and coffee, paid and left. Grigori was pleased that the place was, finally, showing more promise. But his mind echoed the stranger’s words about Ty robbing – killing him. Ty began another song, “He stone cold dead in di markET…” Grigori listened, shaking his head. Let him sing. He’s won’t be here tomorrow, anyway.

Closing time, Ty rinsed out the mop after going over the entire floor. Leaning on the wet mop handle and with another toothy grin he asked Grigori if he could have something to eat. “Nothin’ much, Mr. G. Some o’ that roast beef on a roll and di coffee smells real good. Maybe, a slice o’ thet pie?” Grigori wanted to object. Roast Beef? Pie? The most expensive items on his meager menu? But, suppose he starts an argument and attacks him. He’d be dead – over a roast beef sandwich – and, pie. While preparing the sandwich the door burst open and two men, one holding a pistol broke in and announced it was a ‘stick-up!’ Stunned to immobility, Grigori froze – confused.  Pointing to the register with his chin, he said, weakly, “no much money” – thinking that if he lives he’d put the diner up for sale. Guess it’s the end. He thought of his widowed mother on the small island in the Aegean who expected him to send money.

Incensed and angry, Tyrone, acting on sheer impulse, swung the wet mop around, slamming the pistol packin’ character in the head, causing the gun to fly. Agile Ty dove and retrieved it, holding it against the two men, ordering Grigori to call 911. Still dazed, he did. Police came in minutes, taking away the two. Wolfing down his sandwich and pie, Ty asked him if he had the job. Grigori, smiling, patting the boney shoulders, said, “If you no come back tomorrow – I’ll fire you, MON!”

 

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