1997Queila Cristina Ventura: I Wasn’t Hungry AnymorePeople and Communities, Brazilian History, 400 Stories Project

Gloucester 400 Stories Project
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FOREWORD

This is the story of Queila Cristina Ventura’s arrival in America from Brazil and how she was treated by her co-workers and boss, Lenny Linquata of the Gloucester House restaurant. This story is from our Moments Collection, focusing on a singular memory that had impact on the life of the writer.

EDITOR’S NOTE

When English is not someone’s first language, we strive to retain the person’s authentic voice, which we feel is more important than stringent editing. The Portuguese language version of this story can be found on page 5.

ABOUT THE COVER PHOTOS

Queila Cristina as teenager in Brazil, circa mid-1990s. The photo featuring both Queila and Lenny Linquata was taken in the dishroom of the Gloucester House restaurant where they met over 20 years ago. Photo credit: Terry Weber Mangos, March 2023.

When I first came to Gloucester in 1997, I was only 18. I got a job at the Gloucester House as a dishwasher. It was brutally hard work. I worked long hours and kept to myself. I didn’t speak any English. I was very skinny; I weighed under 100 pounds. I didn’t know the vocabulary for anything—I didn’t know how to ask for something to eat. Plus, I didn’t know I was entitled to a lunch break! I thought I had to just keep working or I would lose my job. Now I know that workers have rights, but I didn’t then. I was always hungry.

One day one of the restaurant staff came over to me with a Portuguese/English dictionary. He showed me the Portuguese word for hungry. And he asked, “Hungry?” I nodded yes! Then he asked, “What do you like to eat?” I didn’t know how to answer, so he started showing me different choices. When he pointed out steak I said, “Yes! I love meat.” So he said, “Come here,” and he cooked me a steak, and told me to sit down and eat it. I was so grateful. After that, he showed me the words for chicken, pork, and other foods. I understood that I could take a meal break. To this day I am grateful for this angel. I don’t remember his name—it probably didn’t stick with me because it was not a familiar Portuguese name, but I wish I could thank him. He saved me. I wasn’t hungry anymore.

Pretty soon I was promoted from dishwasher to prep cook and then to line cook because the boss, Lenny Linquata, saw that I was a good worker. I must say my deepest thank you to Lenny. He helped me with my Green Card which made it possible for me work and stay in the United States. Gloucester is my home now. I was able to save and buy my own home in 2008 with my brother. Now I have my own cleaning business and I can take breaks and eat whenever I want to!

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