Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One of many

Day 20: a picture of somewhere you'd love to travel.

This is Greece. I used to work for a man named Nick (or Nico, as his father called him). He left Greece when he was 18 and had been in Canada for almost 50 years. He had so many stories about what life was like when he was a kid. His family used to live in a palace. And then there was a war and the Nazis took over the palace. And they wanted him, but he refused to be one of them so his family had to hide him. One time he lived under his neighbours floor and another time he lived in a tree for three days while some Nazis lounged under it. He strapped himself to the branch with his belt so he wouldn't fall when he was asleep and when he had to pee, he'd press his penis into his clothing so it wouldn't drip on their heads.

Some of the schools in the area would bring their grade six students to Nico's for a field trip. Grade sixes study Greek mythology. He'd teach them about Greece and it's heritage, cook a huge Greek meal, and then we'd dance: out the front door, around the building, in the back door and through the kitchen. And we'd break plates and yell "Opa."

I started working at Nico's when I suddenly didn't have a husband. I went in there one evening with a date and another couple. We were drinking and having a fantastic time. The waitress (who was also Nick's wife, Sylvia) started chatting with us, and though I can't remember the conversation at all, I do remember her saying, "Can you start Tuesday?" No resume, no interview. I started on Tuesday.

I worked there for a few years and loved every second of it. It was the one time in my life that I actually couldn't wait to go to work, where I woke up thinking "I get to go to work today" instead of "have to." Fiery Greek temper tried to yell at me once; I hugged him and he never yelled again. Though he did fire me every single day.

Sylvia had been diagnosed with cancer before I even got there. She eventually died and Nick, brokenhearted, moved back to Greece for the first time in 47 years. I miss him and hope that when I get the chance to go to Greece, and possibly see him again, I won't be too late.


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