February 9, 2012

USA: This waitress has tips for active aging

BALTIMORE, Maryland / The Baltimore Guide / Features / February 8, 2012

By Mary Helen Sprecher

The waitress takes advantage of the after-breakfast/pre-lunch lull to check the restaurant’s soft drink dispenser. Satisfied, she scans the dining room for customers who look like they might want a refill, then makes tracks for the kitchen. 
Delores Cook, 84, shares a laugh with her 26-year-old
manager at Panera, Dominic Frank. “She runs circles
around everyone,” says Frank.
Photo by Jacqueline Watts
Around her, other servers are working as well. But they don’t have the advantage of her experience.
Delores Cook is 84 years old (she’ll be 85 in May, she say proudly), and is thoroughly enjoying her second wind as a waitress. The Greektown resident is actually a veteran of the trade, having worked at it for decades.
“I was a waitress at Howard Johnson’s for years,” she says proudly. “I was voted the Central Pennsylvania Waitress of the Year in 1982.”
Cook lived in Pennsylvania and worked at HoJo’s until she was widowed more than 20 years ago. After that, working as well as keeping up her house and yard became too much for her.
And at the same time, fate was taking a hand. In Greektown, her son, Harry Cook, was readjusting to the single life after a divorce, and during a phone conversation a possible solution occurred to both of them.
“Harry said, ‘Mom, you could use help, and I could use help, so why don’t you try coming down and try living here?’ I said, ‘Oh, I don’t think so — how am I going to go from living in a ranch home in Pennsylvania to living in a three-story house in the city? It just won’t work.’ He told me to just come down on a trial basis, and well, I’ve been here 21 years.”
Cook loves her job, and she’ll be the first to say so. But she also says she gets as much out of it as she puts into it.
“I’m a big believer that if you keep working and you keep active, it’ll keep you sharp,” she says. “I don’t want to sit around.”
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Copyright © 2012 Genesis Framework

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