Chef

Dallas, Dallas Fire Department, Firefighters, Party, Dating

Chris Brodner and Amanda Moore

Chris Brodner and Amanda Moore sit in a lawn chairs outside of Third Rail Lofts staring into each other’s eyes like they need to make up for years in the friend zone. They sat for two hours playing games on Amanda’s phone before it died, and have been passing the time since by playing card ride games, waiting to let firefighters and family friends into the building.

“The party’s going on all night. It’s a bunch of firefighters,” Chris says with laugh.

Chris is a chef at Brookdale Senior Living. He enjoys it but he’s holding out for something better when he starts fire school in October. He is wearing his father’s blue Dallas Fire Department shirt. On the back of Amanda’s chair, the word Freeman invites guests to a party for Gary Freeman, a local firefighter retiring after thirty years.

“[Freeman] is a great guy, I mean I’ve been staying at the station since I was six and been going out there every time I can and every time I see him,” Chris says in reverence to the long-time family friend, “every time he’s always just given me advice so he kind of acts as a second dad.”

Amanda is a student at Texas A&M Commerce where she is a psychology major with a criminal justice minor. She loves it and plans to graduate in December with her bachelors of science, hoping to stick around for graduate school. The things her family has overcome are their biggest achievements and what drives her to do become a profiler.

“I have a lot of wonderful things in my life. I’d probably have to say my mom and my brother,” Amanda says as Chris puts his head down. He knows the stories. “We’ve had a really bad family history. A lot of bad things have happened to me, to my brother, and to my mom.”

His parents and Amanda are the best things in Chris’s life. Chris and Amanda have been together for six months now and it’s the happiest times of their lives.

“We were friends for about six years and I finally let him out of the friend zone,” she says, looking up at Chris.

“It was hard work. It was a lot of hard work. I spent a lot of hours on that,” Chris says as they smile and look at each other one last time before heading into the party.

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Brooke

Brooke had a problem with cocaine after a cook at Cheddar’s provided for her friend Gabby who she used to drink with in the parking lot.

One day while the partners headed to their car for a few drinks, Gabby pulled out some cocaine a cook gave her. Brooke resisted, but could not help watching as her friend snorted the white powder from the dash of her car. It didn’t look so bad so she gave it a shot. Brooke loved the way it made her feel hyper, which she says is nice as a server. Benito, the cook, started to front cocaine to her but would ask for double the money.

“He’d be like, you owe me $200 dollars and I’d be like, what the fuck, you gave me like such a little amount,” Brooke says. “But he was a big scary Mexican guy. I couldn’t really say no.”

When she tried escaping the habit, he would wait for her in the parking lot after work and she would try to avoid him because she didn’t want him to tell anyone. No one knew, even her best friends, some of whom she worked with.

“Someone actually sent a picture of me and her doing it in the bathroom stall to one of my best friends,” Brooke says. “So who the fuck knows how that happened and how we didn’t notice.”

Brooke, clearly having issues, would be angry, never had money and never had time. One night, her she got drunk, sat her best friend down and told her.

“She was like, are you joking? And I was like, of course I’m not joking, who would joke about that,” she says. “Of course I’m not joking.”

Her friend stopped talking to Brooke completely and said she had to stop. Eventually, Brooke got out of it because her friends were not talking to her and she had no money.

One day, Brooke went on a binge and did a lot, more than she had ever done.

“I was also taking Mollies and drinking,” Brooke says. “I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a Molly but you’re up, so happy and then when the sun comes up you’re like fuck, have I really been up that whole time?”

Brooke was doing coke to make up for it when she “freaked the fuck out and had a breakdown.”

Crying, Brooke called another of her best friends who doesn’t drink. Her friend comforted her and took her to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that night. She promised to keep her in check.

“She was really strict on me, like I will tell your mother if you don’t stop,” Brooke says. “It was really nice.”

All Brooke cares about is moving her family to Colorado and money, so the decision to quit doing drugs was great for her financially. “I was so happy about that especially since I was working my ass off for nothing,” she says.

Now Brooke Hughes, on a two-hour break from her new job as a server at Iron Cactus, walks to Deep Ellum to have some lunch.

“It’s a restaurant so it’s hard work, but it’s good money,” she says.

After Cheddar’s, Brooke worked at Mi Cocina and then Del Frisco’s Steakhouse where she had to quit when her car broke. Afterwards, Brooke found a job at Family Video who promised her a management position. It did not work out and frustrated at the pay drop from $22 an hour at Del Frisco’s to $7.25 at Family Video, she left.

“There’s only a Chili’s an Applebee’s and some mom and pop restaurants out there and I knew I needed to make some quick money,” Brooke says.

Now, Brooke is trying to get out her mother’s garage where she lives with her boyfriend.

“From living on my own to moving back in with my mom and her boyfriend has just been awful,” Brooke says.

“I was such a good girl. I was a virgin until I was like 19 and had a purity ring and went to Dallas Baptist University,” she says.

Brooke attended DBU for a semester where she took 18 hours, failing remedial math. The next semester all her scholarships and federal aid was cut.

“So that’s kind of embarrassing,” she says. “I way overdid it so now I have a lot of debt and I dropped out of school.”

Brooke has to walk like two miles at 8 a.m. to take a train to from Rowlett and is afraid she’s going to burn out fast. It’s a journey, but she loves the job and working downtown.

“Maybe for some people that’s okay because they’re in shape,” Brooke says out of breath as she reaches her destination, Café Brasil, “But from working in a video store 10 hours a week to walking and then serving all day and then walking, it’s just so exhausting.”

Matt

An alcoholic sits in the alley off Main between Akard and Field staring at the people walking past. The young-looking man sits on a windowsill puffing quickly, adjusting his hat sitting on his short blonde hair underneath his black cap, knowing that he’s only got a short time before he has to go back to prep food.

Matt is sober now for almost two months after having battled with it since he was about 20. He’s 29 now. His struggle with alcoholism, like most reformed alcoholics, is hard and cost him a few jobs over the years. Matt previously worked at Nonna when it was open at the Hilton Anatole and the French Room across the street in the Adolphus. He also worked in uptown at little bistros here and there, before a brief spell of unemployment.

“I had to move back in with my parents,” he said. “So I live with my mom and dad right now, out in a little town far away from here.”

One day, Matt was walking on Main and thought he’d submit an application, hoping for the hire. About two weeks later they called, and he’s been able to keep the job ever since. Yes, his struggles have caused some problems with Jason’s Deli- but they still let him show up every day.

“I skipped out for a whole week, didn’t call or show up or anything,” he said. “I came back and they were all worried about me. They were like, ‘where have you been? We tried to call, and thought you were dead!’ I was like, no, I just relapsed,” he said, hiding his eyes under the black cap as he looks to the ground.

Matt, the 29-year-old Jason’s Deli worker has been there since last May and loves it. Nights and weekends are no stranger to the man who never really had a social life, but now that he’s at a kitchen only open Monday through Friday, he’s happy to have weekends off.

“They treat me real good here,” he said.

Matt comes in around 6 or 7 in the morning, depending on the day. Today, he came in at 6 and is ready for his usual shift to end at 3 p.m. He stands up, and walks around the corner quickly, stopping for a moment outside the restaurant doors.

Matt ‘s ready to get back to work so he can get off on time. He’s ready to enjoy the free time he said he’s so lucky to have.

“I’ve lost so many friends. I probably only have three real friends right now,” Matt said, putting out his cigarette under his black, no scuff shoes and pulling the door handle toward him. “I’ve burned a lot of bridges.”