Get to know the Union grill women: They already know you

Peter Gillette

In honor of Hilda’s nomination for the Babcock award, revisit this loving portrait of the “Grill Women,” published in The Lawrentian 25 years ago this week. This selection is warmly dedicated to Hilda and the Downer crew, the Lucindas’ Ladies, and the present administrators of The Grill. Orignally run: Vol. XCVII—No. 24. Friday, April 29, 1977

-By Muffy Shumway

“If only they wouldn’t leave their sardine cans on the table, they’d be a pretty good group,” commented Union staffer Ardys Kurey, referring to our untidy Lawrence faculty.

Ardys is one of the three evening Union grill workers along with Barbara Knutson and Nancy Gunderson who know everything about you except your name.

The three know if you like your coffee with cream, your favorite junk food, who you come in with, how cheap you are, and whether or not your [sic] likely to leave without bringing your dishes to the counter.

Barb, Ardys and Nancy enjoy their work and say that they “have a lot of laughs.” One evening Ardys closed the door at eleven and proclaimed to the few stragglers “All right everybody, I’ve got you all as hostages.”

As the unsuspecting masses filed in, I asked Nancy and Ardys what they thought of Lawrence students. “On the whole, the students are really good,” noted Ardys. Ardys is the benevolent grey-haired woman who describes herself as the “nosy old witch. (I was born on Halloween)” she says.

“Oh! Here comes an exception.”

I asked her why she was hiding the penny dish used for tax money.

“This one takes all the pennies left in the dish to pay for a ten cent Willy Wonka bar. It’s really cheap when you get down to that. Those pennies are for the needy, not the greedy.”

Nancy, the carrot-topped punster, commented that she sees the same group of students every night, but doesn’t know their names. “The same thirty students come in here and go straight downstairs at 11:00, but they’re not so straight when they come back up, then they’re ricocheting off the walls.”

“I’ll tell you what students we don’t like,” said Nancy grinning,”Anyone who watches us pour their drinks and then says, ‘oh, no ice,’ or ‘sorry make that to go,’ or anyone who comes in after 11:00.”

“Sorry is a four letter word for dumb,” added Ardys. Speaking of dumb, Ardys wondered why students never write down their orders. “I know they had to learn to write to pass their entry exams. And how about those people who think their teabag is a horse and tie it to their cup.”

But Ardys told me not to say anything “naughty” about the customers, “Save that for me,” she said. The three were very complementary to the faculty cliental. “That professor who looks like a student (we call him Mr. Compass), he can write. He always writes his orders and is very friendly. Paul, the art professor is also a great man, he never asks for more ice and he always brings his dishes up which they all don’t do. We’ll miss him next year.”

“That professor from England is so nice. He always treats his students to a coke. Oh yeah,” she remembered, “Mr. Chaney.”

“He’s American,” I said.

Sometimes the grill staffers are expected to be the Renaissance Women of the Union. “People expect us to do everything from mopping up Riverview floor to fixing a microphone for a speech,” they said. “If we were janitors or electricians we wouldn’t be working here, we’d be making 12 dollars an hour.”

On the whole Ardys, Barb, and Nancy have few complaints about the job and agree that they have a good time with their student workers. “Everyone is pretty good to us now that they know we’re not afraid of them,” says Ardys.