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Columnists

Greek-American Stories: Recovering

October 30, 2019
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

It was Sunday. The five guys at Dixon’s were sitting, hot coffees in hand, donuts centering the table, discussing the robbery that had occurred in Dimos’ diner Saturday. “It was one of the worst days in my life,” Yiannis told the others, his coffee hand shaking. Dimos nodded. “My poor cashier is home. I gave her the day off after suffering that shock.” Kipreos gave Dimos’ shoulder a sympathetic pat. “I’ll bet your shock was just as bad, Dimos. Worse, maybe! You should be home recuperating, too.” Nodding in agreement, Dimos said, “Well, it’s my second robbery! So, I can handle it a little better, emotionally, this time. But, answering all those questions, looking at so many criminal photos. That was too much! They were wearing masks! How did they expect me to identify them? But, look at Yiannis! He’s still not looking good! He came in for his free coffee and sandwich, like he does once in a while.” They all looked across at Yiannis who appeared pale and withdrawn. He told then, “I’ll, probably, never recover. What an experience! My worst nightmare!” George thought, it’ll be a long time before the next free lunch. Then Yiannis recalled that he hadn’t asked Dimos how much they got away with. Dimos told him, “thank the Lord it wasn’t a busy day. But, they got away with about five hundred dollars from the register.”

“FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS! Cried out Yiannis causing patrons at nearby tables to turn their heads. Lowering his voice, he said, “Kipreos is right. You should be home recovering, too.”

“What happened next?” asked George. “Well, lucky for us, my cook heard the commotion and a woman’s scream and he, quick, called the cops on the inside kitchen phone. They were hustling Yiannis for his wallet at that same time. That’s when he collapsed in a dead faint in one of the booths, just as the cops arrived. When the robbers heard the sirens they beat it out the back. They got caught. But, I have to wait to claim the customers’ and my money. It’s evidence, or something. Yiannis revived just as the cops were taking the robbers away. I noticed he put his hands together in prayer thanking the Lord. Right, Yiannis?” Yiannis readily agreed. “I never prayed so hard with gratitude.” Looking at him with deep understanding, Kipreos pushed the donut tray closer and said with a wealth of concern. “You can have the sprinkled donut, Yiannis. You deserve it after what you’ve been through.”  Without hesitation, Yiannis reached out and picked up that last glazed donut.

“Was that the worst part, Dimos?” asked John. Giving it thought, Dimos replied, “Besides our own lives, I was grateful for the safety of my employees and customers. That’s what I thanked God for. I can always make money again.” Turning to Yiannis, John asked him, “Is your heart ok? Maybe you should see a doctor.” Savoring each sprinkled bite like it was the first time he’d ever eaten one and still reeling over the shock of the experience, Yiannis said, “nah! When the gun was pointed at my chest and the robber looked at me with eyes that meant business and asked, ‘your wallet or your life, mister’, that was the worst part.’”

They all looked at him in awe. John said, “You were the last person they hustled, right?” Yiannis nodded, swallowing the last of the donut. “I was sweating trying to think of a way out of it. My hands were shaking like an electric cord touched it. He pushed the gun into my chest. I had to think fast! That’s when I grabbed at my chest and croaked, ‘m-m-my h-h-heart’ and keeled over.” Dimos explained, “When the cops came in he was back on his feet in a snap.” George, impressed, told him, “That faint saved your life!” Patting the pocket that held his wallet Yiannis, nodding vigorously, said with smug satisfaction, “Hey! It saved my wallet!”

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