She skidded to get the orders out and the tickets paid and there was not even a minute or two to sneak out back and light up a Marlboro red cigarette. Her fingers fluttered over the register. When the vice president of the United States shows up, nobody working has a chance to sneak a smoke near the Dumpster.
“It was busy,” chuckled Jessica Brazell, bartender and server and a lot more at Rock Hill’s Five & Dine, a restaurant on East Main Street that was once home to McCrory’s lunch counter and the Friendship Nine 1961 sit-ins protesting racial segregation that changed America. After Biden spoke at a fundraiser in Fort Mill, the motorcade chugged to downtown Rock Hill, where the Secret Service and Rock Hill cops blocked Main Street before out popped Biden.
He didn’t have long. He went inside and he wanted a milkshake.
“Chocolate,” said Brazell. “The chocolate kind with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. I make ’em the best. So I did.”
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Cook Zachary O’Toole didn’t get a chance to whip something up for Biden, although he wanted to.
“I wanted to make him something he would remember,” O’Toole said.
DaQuavius Glenn in the swamped kitchen rushed to keep up with all the plates and dishes but these politicians have schedules and there was only time for a few pictures and video for the media that often forgets that it is people such as DaQuavius Glenn and Zachary O’Toole and Jessica Brazell who also matter in America.
Brazell made the milkshake under the pressure of so many Secret Service agents who were built like NFL linebackers and who stared like Storm Troopers. Biden sipped the milkshake.
“He told me he liked it,” Brazell said.
When the rush was over, the place had to be cleaned, and readied, and more customers came in. The work did not cease when the big shot and the entourage left.
Yet what matters most in a working person’s life, when the TV lights are gone and the bodyguards take off, and the politician is ushered away in a limousine, is the folded money in the apron pocket that pays for the kids’ books and the light bill and the rent.
Brazell is 38 years old. She hustled Monday. Her politics never came up. She was too busy working.
Like every working person, she has bills that loom.
“He tipped me $20,” Brazell said of Biden.
For a milkshake.
“You don’t get $20 tips for a single milkshake every day,” Brazell said. “Then again, you don’t make a milkshake for the vice president every day.”