In the city of Chicago, there sits a pancake house that once became the home to an 18-year-old busboy. Fifty-four years later, that busser, who is now a 72-year-old man, is still there working the same job, and his story has consequently sparked intense debate on the upward mobility of the Black working class.
Back in September, the Chicago Tribune profiled a man named Othea Loggan, who has worked as a busser at Walker Bros. Original Pancake House in Wilmette since 1964. Although Loggan wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do when he started working there, it appears he's now confident there’s no place he’d rather be.
“He could retire now,” Javon Chambers, his grandson and fellow busser told the Tribune. “He’s financially straight and everything. I just think he knows when people retire, they die. That’s what he’s said: Old people don’t have nothing to do, they see their friends retire, and then they retire, and that’s when they die of boredom, too. It’s like people who are married a long time — if one dies, the next goes right after. That’s like my grandfather and this place. He doesn’t want the will inside him to dry up.”
When asked why he never asked for a less grueling and physically demanding job, Loggan didn’t have much of an answer. The restaurant's owner, Ray Walker, said he’s asked Loggan about advancing but “Loggan doesn’t want anything else — he’s said he’s fine where he is.”
“I think he views this as a place where he knows people, he’s safe and comfortable.” He said Loggan “was the complete opposite of a Black Panther kind of guy,” which he thought “probably helped smooth out his world — I would doubt Loggan really ever dreamed about buying a Cadillac.”
Although Walker and Loggan both seem content, Winston Brown, another busser (for the past 38 years), revealed the job does not offer any useful benefits.
“I’m on dialysis,” he told the paper. “Medicare only. We make just enough to pay bills — sometimes. When I started here, there was one Walker Bros., this place, and now there are seven of them. And what do we get? We get to pay our rents.”
The owner also revealed that he sometimes brings Loggan old clothes he’s done wearing.
“A lot of the guys, you see them in the same pants every day, or in clothes in need of repair — many of them don’t have a lot of clothes to wear.”
When asked why he doesn’t just pay the staff more, Walker said they receive bonuses before adding, “there are a lot of ways to reimburse people.”
(Photo: Jaunmonino/Getty Images)