Low-Wage America: Connie Roberts

Long, Late Nights at a 24-Hour Diner

Connie Roberts

Connie Roberts Noah Adams, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Noah Adams, NPR
Sign outside the Green Country Inn in Brunswick, Md.

Sign outside the Green Country Inn in Brunswick, Md. Noah Adams, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Noah Adams, NPR

Connie Roberts works the overnight shift at the Green Country Diner in Brunswick, Md., open 24 hours a day. She's the only employee on the shift — meaning she's the cook, the waitress and the cashier from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The combination diner and inn are both owned by CSX Transportation, and rail workers often come in for a bite to eat and a clean room during scheduled layovers.

Sometimes she's busy, and sometimes it's a long, lonely night for Roberts. She's worked at the diner for four years and earns $7.35 an hour, plus tips, with no paid holidays, one week's vacation a year and no medical insurance. About half her earnings go to pay for the room at the same inn where she works.

She says she wants to open her own diner one day — and spend more time with her grandchildren, hunting mushrooms in the mountains.

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