Sammy woke up early and hustled over to the Crown Diner. He didn’t want to miss out on the last clean job in the Bronx.
“I was just in time,” he says. “If I had been even a few minutes later someone would’ve beaten me to it. Then I would’ve had to dig through trash looking for bottles and cans.”
A doorman at the local diner doesn’t get a salary, but at least it’s not illegal, yet.
“I work for tips,” Sammy says, “but you don’t have to give me anything.”
The service is simple. Each person gets a “good morning” on the way in and a “have a nice day” on the way out. Hands can stay in warm pockets and no one has to spill their coffee wrestling with the door.
“I get a few dirty looks,” Sammy admits. “It’s just like when I used to wash windshields at the Lincoln Tunnel. Some people will always think you’re trying to rip them off.
“I’m just trying to survive,” he continues. “People give me coffee and donuts and one guy gave me an egg sandwich earlier. I get a dollar here and there. It’s enough to get by for now.”
He lives with his sister and her husband and their three kids.
“I was gonna join the Marines when I got out of high school,” Sammy explains. “My sister begged me not to and promised that I could stay with her until I got a good job and could get out on my own.”
Sammy works at Yankee Stadium during the summer and is a plumber’s apprentice when there is enough work. He spends most of his time opening doors these days.
“There isn’t much out there,” he says. “I’ll have to get by doing stuff like this until baseball season starts.
“Have a nice day.”