59. I’m Movin’ On Up!

I had put in just about three months work at that little Indian restaurant before it met its end.  Sometimes I’d walk past the establishment and see the sign still up on their window.  It was a bittersweet experience after all.  

In conclusion of the Department of Labor’s investigation, Jack and Bill were made to pay me an amount equivalent to that of lost back wages and I soon received a payment cheque in kind retroactive to my hire date.  

I continued to work the breakfast and lunch shifts, Monday through Friday at the hoppin’ Italian joint on Market close by to the sea and still pulling in a very decent wage.

I continued also to reside at Lalit’s hotel until about the beginning of May.  The time had come that I required a little more living space and so after a fond farewell to my first-ever landlord and first American residence, I moved my digs about 3 blocks up Jones towards Turk Street.  

Now I would pay a rental rate of $2.50 per night; yes I was still in a hotel but hey, it was spacious and I even had my own private bathroom now.  How ‘bout that!

I didn’t want to go too far away from the main bus line of Market Street; getting to work without freezing on the wide open street that Market is was indeed priority and yes, I did invest in a very warm coat.

I stayed on with the Italian restaurant about another 6 months.  One time I remember asking for a couple of extra days off; a Friday and a Monday so that I would have a long weekend to go off on an adventure with a couple of friends.  Thankfully this was not a problem for them; I was a loyal and good member of the crew after all.

The three of us took a drive south down the 101 to Los Angeles for a limited but leisurely  weekend, stopping along the way to enjoy whatever caught our fancy.  This would include scenery to be amazed by and filling of the car’s gas tank or ours.  Gasoline was about .25 cents per gallon at this time.  Remember the days of ethyl?

When we finally reached downtown Los Angeles, we were able to get a very nice hotel room.  Though it was costly between the 3 of us sharing it was easily affordable.  Wish I would remember the name of that place.  

We drove what we thought was all over, taking in the sights of the city of Los Angeles herself, dipping into Koreatown and Chinatown, though by no means would it compare in scale to San Francisco’s -we just had to know- and then off into Hollywood we went.

Speaking for myself it was a fun weekend, exploring a completely new part of the state and I’m beginning to feel as though California would become my indefinite home.  

I noticed the sunshine here in southern California felt just a bit different … warmer at least to me.  We also drove into Santa Monica and then visited the beach.  Of course we indulged in the usual beach food, hot dogs and what not.  

Back in the city of Los Angeles, the memorable meal of this weekend had to be at a cafeteria where we ate one of our meals in but again I’m not recalling a name.  It sticks in my mind however as an establishment serving very tasty food.

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55.  February in the City, Moving Right Along

The next morning I went out into the city.  Market Street would get my attention today.  And yes, I tested my thigh power up some of the hilly streets too; it was time to really explore my options.  I knew I must get a profitable routine kicked into gear and very soon!

I found an Indian restaurant on Jones Street and I noticed their business hours were dinner only.  Still I was able to enter.  I asked to visit with the manager and it was quickly arranged as that same man in the rather plain dining room was one of the owners.  

Here was a bearded American man named Bill and we spoke for a few moments.  He told me that his friend/business partner, also an American, was the cook back in the kitchen.  He was married to an Anglo-Indian lady and it was she who guided him in the art of her Indian cooking.

The other man, Jack, came out too and I spoke mostly to him, asking questions and sharing my experience.  He explained they were a young business and proposed to start me with only tips and food for pay.  

“If you are able to build our customer base, fill more tables then we’ll negotiate guaranteed wages,”  Bill told me.  As it was relayed to me, Bill was the financier of the restaurant and Jack had the Indian influence.  I seriously considered the offer.

I’d assured the two gentlemen I’d come back by the end of the week if I would accept.  We parted company and then I strolled around for a while to see if anything else would call to me.  

Obeying the pangs in my stomach, I found my way to a nice lunch at one of many local Chinese restaurants.  

Well it’s still winter and nothing sounds better than a good nap after a filling lunch so back to the hotel and up I went for a nice, deep afternoon rest.  

Not long after I got up I received a call from the guys I had gone to the farm with.  They asked if I was doing all right.  That was real nice.  Then they must’ve told the other guys who stayed in the city that I decided the farm was not for me and came back.  

I got a call from them offering their company.  “Hey let’s go get coffee and do some window shopping!”  I certainly appreciated that but realizing the need to focus on the things I must I graciously declined, telling them honestly that I wanted to feel out the city on my own for a couple of days.  

Their response reflected understanding, their disposition most cheerful.  The guys offered their local telephone number so I should call if I needed anything.  That was so kind.

I spent that evening walking my neighborhood stretch of San Francisco, observing this part of America, my current residence, so far away from my youth and my previously known comforts.  All this would now have to become part of the graduated me.

I would serve myself warmed leftover Chinese for dinner.  A nice hot shower would lead me straight to bed and it was lights out.

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