Hit And Run

On April 8th Maria Nolan, a 45 year old financial planner for Fleet Securities, was crossing the street near Madison Avenue and East 65th Street when she killed by a hit and run driver.

Described in the press as a pretty, well dressed, and petite woman – she lived in a luxury condominium on East 57th street with her husband, John. He must be devastated.

One of the victim’s neighbors said, “She was a lovely woman; she was very quiet and unassuming, and she just… it’s gonna be a tragic loss… really feel terrible.”

Police are blanketing the area with signs and reviewing traffic camera surveillance tapes trying to find the driver of the car.

If you live in the NYC area I’m sure you’ve seen the story. It’s been all over the TV and the newspapers.

But there was another hit and run accident this weekend in New Jersey that didn’t make the front pages or the evening news.

Buried in the back pages of the Bergen Record was this story……

WESTWOOD (NJ) – A restaurant worker riding his bike home from work was killed by a hit-and-run driver Saturday morning.

Jario Gonzalez-Romero, 23, of Cedar Lane in River Vale was riding home about 1:45 a.m. when he was struck and killed near Old Hook Road and Carver Avenue.

Police said they are looking for a dark-colored compact vehicle, based on witness descriptions.

Gonzalez-Romero worked at the Harvest Bistro & Bar in Closter. He would ride a Schwinn bike about three miles between his home and the restaurant, said Detective Robert Saul of the Westwood Police Department.

A friend of mine worked with Jario and emailed me today….

Tonight I was watching the news and saw a piece on a woman who was run down and killed in Manhattan. She was a financial planner. They spent several minutes on the story. Below you will find an article about a young man who worked as a dish washer and prep cook at Harvest. They used a total of 5 sentences and the article was buried on the last page of the local section. Seems fair. He was making next to nothing, couldn’t even afford a car so he had to ride a bike. It doesn’t even mention (Jario’s friend) , who was riding right next to him when this happened and has decided to go back to Costa Rica because of his feelings of guilt.

I don’t know, I guess I’m just pissed and think someone should do something to catch the shit who only stopped for a second before speeding away. I thought maybe if there was more news coverage someone who saw something or someone who knows the guilty person might be persuaded to do something.

……. I’m just trying to deal with a death…..he was a nice guy and he worked hard. It’s just not fair.

It isn’t fair. It never is.

You’ve all seen guys like Jario – working long hours gutting fish; hauling stinking heaps of garbage to the dumpster, and washing dishes so better heeled customers don’t have to. People like him work quietly, backstage, making the theater that is a restaurant become reality.

Maybe when you walk by a restaurant you see one of them – catching a quick smoke while wearily sitting on an empty crate in the back alleys of affluence.

What’s their life worth?

My first reaction when I read my friend’s email was anger. Why does the hit and run in New York get broad media coverage while Jario’s death only merits five sentences in a local paper? Was it because Ms. Nolan was affluent and attractive and Jario is only another faceless immigrant? Is Jario somehow less valuable? Less newsworthy?

After my anger cooled I accepted the hard reality that news about people dying on the Upper East Side sells more papers than someone run down in Westwood, NJ. It’s not personal or evil. It’s just the way it is.

I realized something else. Two families are grieving today. One in New York, the other in Costa Rica and New Jersey.

To them Maria and Jario’s lives were treasures beyond price.

At the restaurant where Jario worked they’ve taken up a collection to ship his body back to Central America. People who didn’t even know Jario are volunteering to work in the kitchen so his coworkers can take some time off and mourn. The restaurant owner is pitching in financially to help. Others are contacting the media to ask them to help the police find the car the struck Jario.

Obviously – by the actions of his friends – Jario was valuable.

In New York City, Ms. Nolan’s friends and family gather to grieve. There will be remembrance and tears. She sounded like a nice person. Another valuable life ended too soon.

Similar accidents in two different cities, two lives of equal value cut short – the same aching sense of loss.

My deepest sympathy for Jario and Maria’s families and friends.

To the people that killed them – turn yourselves in.

If you have any knowledge about Ms. Nolan’s death contact the New York City Police Department at (646)-610-5000

If you have any knowledge about Jario’s death contact the Westwood, NJ Police Department at (201) 664-7000.

Donations to help cover Jario’s funeral expenses and provide support to his family are being accepted at this address:

Jario Fund c/o Russell Stern
Harvest Bistro
252 Schraalenburgh Road
Closter, NJ 07624

Make checks payable to Harvest Bistro. Write “Jario Fund” in the notation section.

Thank you.


Comments

Hit And Run — 10 Comments

  1. Hi, your blog title caught my attention, then the rant blew me away. I couldn’t agree with you more about the class-treatment of lives in the media. My daughter works as “waitress” or server, to be P.C., but she will someday be a lawyer. It is sad to know that if she was run over today there’d be little press, if she became a “noteworthy” lawyer, the story would be different. I’m just glad to know that there’s people who understand that it often goes like that, but God knows each person is valuable. The law enforcement people I know have been taught to give effort to every investigation, from the street person to the famous, and pursue justice no matter the status of the victim or how the media treated them. When a Vietnamese immigrant was run down locally by a young affluent white male who was drunk, it happened that there really was local outrage, due to the police in this case thoroughly pursuing prosecution to the fullest for that victim. Hope that helps you to know that we do pursue all leads on these suspects in hit & runs. Thanks for the thoughts.

  2. I’ve been a waitress for years, and have worked with so many latinos who are genrally illegal, working their a**es off to scrape by and get their families to America. They’re some of the nicest hardest wok\rking people I’ve ever met, and yet, as this entry proves, they are discarded, shunned, and generally disrespected. The injustice of it has always pissed me off, but this – this is horrible. The only thing I can say is that there’s some redemption in the fact that the co-workers and sucha re being so supportive and wonderful. Excellent entry here, glad you posted it – I hope a LOT of pople read it and take heart.

  3. Hi I have just added your blog to my Feedreader because it looks like a keeper. I have a technical question for you though. This particular entry “Hit and Run” is formatted correctly in Feedreader – showing all the line breaks and paragraphs, whereas all the other blogspot entries (and not just yours) always format as one big block of text. Did you do anything differently for this entry? I am trying to achieve the same effect.
    Thanks. Love your writing style.

  4. Why do you assume that the economic differences between the 2 casualties is the reason that one story was reported and the other wasn’t? Every day there are stories about people of all different walks of life who are injured (children falling out of windows, people hit by cars, etc.). This might simply have been a case of the New Jersey accident not being reported to the media.

  5. Why do you assume that the economic differences between the 2 casualties is the reason that one story was reported and the other wasn’t? Every day there are stories about people of all different walks of life who are injured (children falling out of windows, people hit by cars, etc.). This might simply have been a case of the New Jersey accident not being reported to the media.

  6. You’re more than likely right about the economic differences between Maria and Jario is the reason she got more coverage. Just think to the coverage Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping got while a little black girl who had been walked to school in Wisconsin around the same time also disappeared and we heard NOTHING about it. Apparently even in the 21st century the media thinks we only care about white children or rich children.

  7. I’ve learned to live life being “Fifth Business”; working class blue collar Joes and Joannes will always be overlooked for what we have to do to just get through life. But that’s the way it is.

  8. Waiter:

    You said it so much better than I could have. I wrote this for a column published last year in a small-time offshoot of one of the major newspapers. I put it here because I think we were both coming from the same place.

    +++++++++++++++

    Running a restaurant and catering business is not quite as glamorous as some of you may think. The hours are long, the temperature of the kitchen is usually far above what is comfortable, there is a whole lot more heavy lifting than you see in the brochure and the shoes . . . the shoes may be one of the least glamorous aspects of all. They tend to be comfortable, durable and entirely unflattering.

    There are, however, some side benefits which are so rewarding that you will hardly pay any attention to your sore feet or the swirling whirl of the conflicting priorities flying around in your head. The majority of these benefits have to do with the people who are working in the trenches with you.

    I have been extraordinarily fortunate in the quality of people who work with me day to day and week to week. I realize that I’m borderline boasting here, but it’s always been my belief that any boss who doesn’t brag on his or her employees is doing something wrong. My people are some of the best in the business and I’m not afraid to say so.

    Not all of the people that I have contact with in the course of a day are my employees. I am visited on an almost daily basis by my suppliers. These are the guys who literally bring home the groceries. They lug in multiple 40 pound cases of Ashley Farms chicken, 80 pound cases of Australian beef, 30# cases of cream cheese, gallons of demi glace, buckets of pickles, and unending cases of fresh vegetables and fruit through my gravel parking lot that makes their rolling carts all but useless, and they do it in pouring rain or punishing heat. Along with the young woman who washes my dishes, my deliverymen have the toughest jobs in foodservice. Although they have no control over the way that the delivery trucks are routed, they are routinely abused by tempermental chefs who feel that they should have gotten their delivery earlier. They rarely get the credit they deserve for their hard work. But without them, I couldn’t do my job. Without them, there are no gourmet sandwiches or five-course meals.

    I’ve worked for a number of different restaurants during my career, but I will always remember my first job in a small restaurant in a big town where the chef and the deliverymen were on great terms. They would have coffee together, ask about families and trade gossip about other restaurants. Watching them talk made the city seem like a small town.

    On the day that I write this, I have lost one of my favorite deliveryguys. I didn’t know Cliff McKivor well, but he brightened up my day every time he pulled his truck into our parking lot. He went above and beyond in his job, insisting on stocking the heavy cases into my refrigerator so that I wouldn’t have to lift them. I know he was a Yankees fan and was planning on going up to New York to see Roger Clemens pitch. He’d talk baseball with my assistant Eric, ask me about my brother’s wedding and we’d both good naturedly complain about business or the weather. Always a smile and a sunny disposition. He was a very cool guy and I wish now that I’d told him that.

    Cliff died at 4:30 in the morning in a head-on collision on I-40 on his way to work. He was a good man and a hard worker and I hope his loved ones will know that he will be missed by many people in my industry. I hope Cliff knows. I hope, wherever he is, that he can see Clemens pitch.

    So next time you see one of those big restaurant delivery trucks, think about your last great meal in a restaurant and give credit to those unsung foot soldiers of foodservice. They may literally be where your next meal is coming from.

    ______

    So, Waiter:

    I found your stuff today, through a link on CHOW. I’m a working chef with a wine tasting to do tomorrow, four catering jobs this weekend. — and a magazine article due by Monday. I’ve got alot to fucking do! I’ve owned my business for almost ten years, so while I’m normally pretty responsible I’ve spent the past ten hours reading your website since it’s inception. I love the fact that Anthony Bourdain recommends your book (as a chef, he is a minor god to me. The man is so fucking audacious!) I’ve been irresponsible by spending so much time reading your stuff. But you have a voice I haven’t heard before, other than in my head. You are NOT the Anthony Bourdain of the front of the house. Your voice may echo many of the frustrations of anyone who has worked in the restaurant business (which is highly entertaining at times), but you bring to it a certain compassion that is also endemic to the profession. It takes a certain delicasy to understand it — and even more to write about it. I’m just sorry I didn’t find your blog sooner.

    Geez, I’m going on and on, when what I really want to do is to wish you well. I’ve ordered your book — but please don’t think of me as a groupie. After reading your first year or so of blogging, I think of you as a friend I haven’t met yet (which is horribly presumptious, but you have to learn to deal with these things.)

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