There are many other members of both the Columbia and Morningside communities who make the years here a little more enjoyable. We at Bwog feel they deserve a little time in the spotlight for all their hard work. Today: Amy the HamDel lady
2:00 A.M. on a Saturday night: you’re all but crawling home, you lost your jacket and dignity somewhere and you’re so hungry you could eat a small person. Yet there are two reasons to praise the heavens: 1) Hamilton Deli is open and 2) no matter what sad state you’re in, you will find no judgment in the eyes of Amy (better known as The HamDel Lady) – not even when you order the Godfather Hero…with fries…and gummy bears…and Snapple.
Amy’s real name is Eman, “but nobody calls me that,” she says, “they can’t pronounce it. So it’s just Amy.” As I talk to her, she continues serving customer after customer. Originally from Alexandria, Egypt where she received a diploma in Social Service, she moved to the US nine years ago, after she broke up with her fiancée. She now lives in Queens, and can proudly declare “I take care of myself 100%.”
But she does miss her home. “[In Egypt] even the neighborhood is like family. If you disappear for two days they will knock on your door and ask you if you are okay. That’s the Arabic culture. New York is very lonely.”
From 8pm to midnight, Amy works at the Fortago Fully Loaded on Columbus and 106th before starting her shift at Ham Del from midnight to 6am. There, she cheerfully serves a constant throng of doctors and nurses, public safety officers, delivery people and students, all of whom she greets with a “Hi Honey,” if not by name. “There are so many different people who come here,” she tells me, “It’s a fun time… Even if I don’t know their names, I know their faces.” Despite her 62-hour week of night-shifts, Amy insists that she loves her job. “My boss is so good,” she says. “If one day I want to stay home, I can’t because I want to work for him. I cannot leave him.”
And what does she really think of our nocturnal cravings? As she rings up a mountain of food for three red-eyed sophomores she tells me, “I love the students. But sometimes you have to have patience, especially when they are drunk…I don’t mind. It’s funny.” Plus, she knows what keeps people coming back, “I don’t have a problem with anyone. I love everyone. Because I make everything go fast, they don’t have to wait.”
– Mahrah Taufique