I worked as a waitress in the officers’ club in Frankfurt. In most ways it was typical restaurant work, like I had done elsewhere. Some of the long-time waiters were Italian. Apparently they had left Italy to come to Germany, because they didn’t want to do military service that was compulsory in Italy. There was also a Romanian guy who had worked there for many years. I don’t remember what his story was, but this was back in the times when Romania was part of the East Bloc, and we didn’t meet a lot of Eastern Europeans or Russians. He was really nice though.
Most of the cooks were German, and the kitchen staff was mostly African-American. All the dishwashers were black women who were married to enlisted men. Many of them had been in the Army before. It always bothered me that the white people worked as servers, and the black people worked in back. I think actually they may have earned more money overall, because we only earned a lot if it was crowded. But still, they had to wash all these big pots and pans.
Like in most restaurants, everyone smoked a lot. We would smoke in the break room, and our talk was a mix of German and English. Most of us didn’t really know German, except for the guys who were married to German women. There were a lot of black men married to Germans. One of my friends at the restaurant who was married to a German told me that Germans were nicer than black women (this is what he said, I did not think this was true). His first wife, who was also black, had stabbed him and he had to go to the hospital. He was in the army at the time. But when he got out, he stayed in Germany because he liked the women there.
There were also some Korean women who worked in the restaurant, usually as bartenders. They were really tough. They had to keep things moving, even when it was crowded, and they had to put up with all kinds of obnoxious behavior from the guys. There was one Korean lady who was a head bartender, and she was so tough and mean, everyone was afraid of her. I had to barback for her sometimes and she used to yell at me if I didn’t move fast enough. I guess she had seen it all and was not impressed with anything. She was married to a black NCO who everyone said was also afraid of her.
People said that the Koreans knew more about the military than anyone else. They knew what benefits were available, and how to do a PCS move without wasting money, and how to do all the paperwork that the military requires. They made it their business to figure out military life completely.
A friend of mine used to work as a bagger in the commissary, and she said that the Koreans (who also worked as cashiers and baggers) would know which customers tipped well, and would steer their friends to the good tippers. My friend said it was like a little Korean mafia at the commissary. I have heard this from other people as well.

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