Tuesday, August 5, 2008

employment

Left my rooming house, little knowing I had spent my last night in that noisy, dirty place. I was headed to a Scandinavian, Domestic Employment Agency. It was located near Grand Central Statiion on Madison Ave. Yesterday, I had learned enough about New York City to know that going above ground when possible was far better than speeding through life on the subway.

The waiting room was filled with many sorts of Scandinavians looking for employment. I had fun trying to figure out what kind of jobs they were looking for. One, an elderly man wth huge gnarly hands was not looking for indoor jobs. A middle aged woman with too much make up was not looking for an outdoor job. No one spoke to his or her neighbor and I was too shy to break the silencee.

Soon it was my turn. I was nervous. Felt as if my future was going to be decided in the next few minutes. What would I become. I had large hands but I would never make it as a gardener or a plumber. I had no make up on, but what had that woman in the waiting room become in the last few minutes. When I was seated at the desk and my interviewer asked me what kind of job I was looking for, I said 'I don't know.' She looked mystified. I told her tht I had just arrived. (had to go through some chit chat about Greta Garbo) I had been told by a friend of my mother's that this was the way to get a job in America. 'What have you done so far'.I finished school in the spring. I worked last summer in a hospital in Landskrona Sweden. I was not in nursing and not in housekeeping but some vague combination of the two. I have my school records with me. Would you like to see them?

She was obviously relieved for this breather. I could tell by her accent that she was a southern Swede and consequently knew of my school. I can get you a job, beginning today. You will be a kitchen maid in a lovely house in Princeton NJ. The butler is here in town and he will pick you up. The pay is $75.00 and room and board. If that was all she thought of my School papers who was I to argue. You will owe us $50.00 out of your first paycheck. I will call the butler, and have him pick you up here. How long will it take you to get your suitcase? 'Could he pick me up at my rooming house for my suitcase is heavy'. 'Take a cab here. Andbe prompt.'

I managed o be there on time and was met by Urban, the butler. The car he was driving was a La Salle which he informed me was used only for the servants. His wifee was named Ulla and she was the cook. Within minutes we were in the Hudson Tunnel and I think before we were out of the tunnel, I was asleep. The elevateds and the fire engines screaming to fires had taken their toll.

18 comments:

Darlene said...

Daily Coyote is a must daily read for me. When I saw a note today that her Grandma had her very own site I just had to come over and visit you.

You are so wonderful to share your life with us. I find it very inspirational, we should all be as brave as you have been.

Looking forward to your next post, we can hardly wait to find out what happened next!

Emily said...

Your stories are so interesting! I hope you continue posting frequently

Redhead With Glasses said...

I got your blog address from your awesome granddaughter, the coyote mom.

This is great! I hope you enjoy having all kinds of people read about your experiences!

Jenny said...

This is like eating a fantastic piece of cake (or cookie) in small bites - you get to savor every bite before moving on to the next one.

hello haha narf said...

just reading the story of a young woman knowing no one and being brave enough to move to a new country, to take a job in a home in princeton no doubt, gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes. i wish i would have heard these kinds stories from my family members. thank you for sharing!

becky

Anne said...

I too am completely addicted to Daily Coyote. I think your blog will also become an addiction. Today I was spoiled because there are quite a few entries to read. From now on I'll have only a few paragraphs. You write very well in a way that holds my interest - better than any novel because it is a true story. I'm so happy you are here - thank you very much!
Anne

KaJoMo said...

I know I will sound like a broken record, but I too found you from your granddaughter's site. I am HOOKED already! Can't wait to read what you have to tell us next!!!

aerome said...

You are a very good blogger and I now see where Shreve gets it from. My grandfather was an Irish immigrant and just like I enjoyed his stories, I am thoroughly enjoying yours! Welcome to the world wide web!!

Katherine Bennett said...

My mother (of your generation; I'm old enough to be Shreve's mom) used to write us letters with wonderful stories in them.... "You can tell that it's spring in Texas when the scorpions come into the house...." She, like you, had a gift.

She has fallen away from the practice and I miss those stories. I am so grateful that Shreve has shared your blog with us.

I now have a new mom who tells wonderful stories.

Martha Alderson said...

You must be dancing with joy!!!

Martha Alderson said...

P.S. -- $75.00 for what? An hour? Yeah, right! A week? A month??
Hungry for even more authentic details.

The Educated Eclectic said...

Wow - found this from Shreve's Twitter (wait till you try that, and I bet you would be great at it!)

Really enjoying the stories. Thank you so much!

pogonip said...

I wish my grandma would have told us stories about her immigration experiences, although I don't think Greta Garbo was on her ship. I'm sure enjoying yours.

Ann from Montana said...

A daily JOY!

Your stories are my favorite kind of "book" - your writing paints the scene.

I LOVE coming here as much as I love Daily Coyote...incredible gifts you and Shreve have and thanks so much for sharing with all of us!

diana said...

Grandma Svensto,

Your entries are so vivid and telling!

I'll be checking back daily... ;)

-- another Daily Coyote reader

dealane said...

My grandma came to America by ship from Greece. I never got her story from her - just bits and pieces that she told others in my family. Your story is helping me understand a little more of what her experience might have been like. Thank you so much for sharing. I love the way you write and check daily for your next installment.

dealane said...

My grandma came to America by ship from Greece. I never got her story from her - just bits and pieces that she told others in my family. Your story is helping me understand a little more of what her experience might have been like. Thank you so much for sharing. I love the way you write and check daily for your next installment.

jeanne said...

found you my son showed me how yo make the comments. great reading.