It was a night like many nights. I sauntered over to my car and drove the short drive to Carolina’s Diner. However, I wasn’t only there for food. I was on a mission to see, as senior Jonathan Yatsky put it, “the late-night icon for the Diner.”
I am talking about Phyllis.
For those unaware, Phyllis is the waitress who works most nights at Carolina’s Diner. She’s the one you might stumble in on if you have been out partying and need some good food. In my constant trips to the diner over the years, I have come to know Phyllis as a friend and confidant, as many students have.
I burst through the diner door, excited and ready to see her as usual.
Phyllis was not there.
“Doesn’t Phyllis usually work on Wednesdays?” I asked the solitary waiter.
Phyllis had called out and wasn’t going to work that night. I sat down to eat my food, a little less gung-ho about the whole ordeal.
I asked the waiter, Randy, what he thought about Phyllis.
“She’s very motherly,” he said. “She watches over everything. She’s also very stern, so she wants everything done her way.”
I found out that she would be at the diner the next night, so I planned to go again.
In the downtime between nights, I began to talk to my colleagues about Phyllis. I wanted to hear their opinions on the big mainstay of the diner and the college.
The comments varied, all painting a more accurate picture of such an integral part of late nights here at Guilford.
“Almost everyone has dealt with Phyllis in their college career,” said Yatsky. “It doesn’t matter where they came from or who they are.”
“She told me a story about how she cracked her head open when she was growing up in California,” said junior Chase Clausen.
In learning so much about how students felt about Phyllis, I felt it only fair to ask the woman herself what she thought of the students in return.
“They’re a bunch of big kids,” Phyllis said the next night. “They act out and I have to put them in time out, but I enjoy waiting on them. They don’t rush me. They always say ‘no worries.’ I feel like they’re a part of my family.”
As with many families, there are good days and bad days. Students coming to the diner after a night of partying are a common occurrence.
“The only stories I have about Phyllis are her getting really (angry) at college students,” said sophomore Carson Collins. “Then she rants to me and my friends about them.”
“There’s times when I want to pull their hair out,” Phyllis told me. “There are also times when they know their levels and how far they can go with that (partying).”
“I’ve seen her sass a table completely,” said Randy the previous night. There are numerous tales of Phyllis kicking people out of the diner when they have gone too far. However, if you show her respect, she will respect you in return.
“If they’re respectful to me, we get to know each other by name,”
Phyllis said. “If I don’t know them by name, then I just call them baby, or sugar, or honey, something like that. They love it when I do that.”
“She is one of those people that makes Guilford, Guilford,” said Yatsky. “She is like the sassy, hidden discipline of the school.”
Coming up soon, Phyllis will have worked at Carolina’s Diner for 10 years. So the next time you go to the diner, pay tribute to an important part of the Guilford community — and pay for your food.