One of the features that our publication presented on a continuing basis was entitled "Success Stories" which highlighted beverage retailers or restaurateurs who had prospered in their undertaking. These stories included photos and an extensive interview with the subject.
I had not been in Southern California long when it was arranged that I should do one of these 'Success Stories' on a popular restaurant which was owned and operated by a woman. The woman was, I surmised, in her early forties and had been in the restaurant business most of her life since her parents had also operated dining establishments. I will call her Gloria, not her true name.
I generally tried to arrange these interviews, especially for restaurateurs, in the afternoon after the luncheon business was complete and the premises all but empty. This afternoon the restaurant was empty and the two of us sat in a booth with complete privacy.
Of course I asked her the usual questions like how she had got into the restaurant business, how she had acquired this most successful dining establishment and so on. She was very candid with me and answered all the questions in a most complete and comprehensive fashion. She had worked in her parent's eating places, almost from childhood and so learned the business from the kitchen up.
After her parents died she sold the restaurant that they then operated and looked for a more upscale and better located dining establishment. And the present restaurant was the result. As usual I asked about her future plans and possible new endeavors.
She said no. But then after a long pause said "But I do have some regrets which I feel very deeply". I said nothing and then again after a short silence she continued. "Yes, I am successful but I have missed so much. In my late teens and yes, all through my years from girl to womanhood, I missed out on all the fun and exciting times that other girls and young women of my age were enjoying. For me it was always restaurant work and more work, long hours and much responsibility. "Now I look back and regret all those interesting and exciting times which every young girl and woman should have. Certainly I have had none of them."
To all of this I said nothing and almost never do when people, like Gloria, opened their inner thoughts, opinions, desires and confessions to me. Generally there was nothing to be said, certainly not in this instance.
We got together the staff and I took some photographs to go with the story, thanked her for the interview, promised to mail her some copies on publication and left.
But I thought about what she had told me many times. Personally I could not recall that my own late teen and early manhood times were that much fun. But then I was a man and maybe it was different for the other sex. And when I mentioned this to my wife she said she could not recall that those years were that exciting and fun for her either. For Gloria these so called missed years I felt were just an illusion. Things that she had dreamed about during those busy years with no guarantee that any of them would have actually developed or happened. A wise man once said that we all have two lives, one, our actual life and the other our dream life. I would have liked to convey this thought to Gloria that day but I did not. I was a just a reporter doing a routine story.
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