Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tio Buck

The date was March 4, 1994. I was 17, working at the Pancake House in Flemington. Jose was our dishwasher & it was a busy Friday night. Troutman was working as our manager. All of a sudden, we hear the dishwasher shut off & Jose grabbing about 6 or 7 rags to cover the blood gushing from his thumb. It wasn't catastrophic & Jose was a very quiet, hardworking man. But it was a serious wound.

Troutman comes up to the Line where we were cooking & said, "Tony, get that Mexican to the hospital before he looses too much blood." I had only been driving for a few months, so I was eagerly willing to have an excuse to put the hazard lights on & tear up Route 31 to the Medical Center.

When we arrived to the ER, we were greeting by a never-ending pile of forms to fill out. Finally, I threw my citizenship weight around & demanded that the bubble-headed insurance receptionist, "help my friend." I recall telling the lady that we were all covered by the Pancake House & to send the bill to (owner) Jim. So after finally getting Jose in to see a doctor, I was informed he needed about 30 stitches & it would take about an hour. And so I went off to the waiting room to make a phone call on the pay phone underneath the television. I dropped in my 35 cents & dialed 782-6337 to inform Troutman we were going to be a little while. While I was waiting for someone to pick up on the other end, I looked up at the television & saw that John Candy died. I was in stunned disbelief right when Troutman answered the phone. I blurted out, "Did you hear John Candy died?" He said, "No way!" I could hear everyone on the line cooking, the noise in the background told me it was busy. Troutman told me to hang on a second as he announced to everyone in the kitchen the news of the comedic legend's death. It even forced 3 or 4 employees to grab the phone from Troutman & confirm the news.

I hung up the phone & after a spit second I realized I had just made a call from the hospital & the only news I delivered was the death of John Candy. None of us even remembered Jose, whose thumb was nearly detatched from the rest of his 80-hour a week, minimum wage body. I always felt bad about that.

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