“It didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me to stay. The janitor thing was only a stopgap measure, and now that something better had turned up, I didn’t have to think twice about changing my plans. The salary was only a small part of it, of course. I was back where I belonged, and when Mrs. Witherspoon invited me to step in and take over Billy’s old job, I told her I’d start first thing in the morning. It didn’t matter what the work was. If she’d invited me to stay on to scrub the pots in the kitchen, I would have said yes to that, too.
I slept in the same top-floor room I’d occupied as a boy, and once I learned the business, I did all right for her. I kept the washing machines humming, I jacked profits up, I persuaded her to expand in different directions: a bowling alley, a pizza joint, a pinball arcade. With all the college kids pouring into town every fall, there was a demand for quick food and cheap entertainment, and I was just the man to provide these things. I put in long hours and worked my buns off, but I liked being in charge of something again, and most of my schemes turned out pretty well. Mrs. Witherspoon called me a cowboy, which from her mouth was a compliment, and for the first three or four years we galloped along at a sprightly clip.”
—paul auster, “mr. vertigo”