Later this month, Marcy Rogers will be retiring from a 14-year stint behind the sandwich counter of Pusateri’s on Church Street. The Dora-nominated playwright has nourished countless people not just with sandwiches, but banter and heartfelt conversations — but don’t call Marcy an elder!
“Inside, I feel like I’m 15!” says Marcy. “I think we need to stop looking at people of a certain age as the fountain of wisdom. Someone young can serve the function of what we think of as an ‘elder’ because they can make you feel good to be yourself.”
“Community leaders make you feel like whatever you’re doing, that everyone else is telling you is crap, or is dangerous, or is hurting your mother, is actually totally fine,” Marcy says. “In fact, you may go through many series of phases in your life where you are disappointing a number of people, including the people who think you’re swell now.”
The key is not caring what others think and avoiding putting others in boxes. “A lot of people aren’t free inside. We have enough socializing that makes us feel like we’re not attractive enough, then we make it even worse in our own community with all these archetypes,” Marcy says. “I’m whatever the hell I wanna be. I don’t particularly feel like my inner person has any gender whatsoever.”
Marcy believes people who work in The Village do the neighbourhood a critical service. “During COVID, there were people who came in here, and I was their only source of conversation. We’d talk about politics, music, art, books; you name it.” Marcy says — their passion for politics is palpable.
Food is also one of Marcy’s passions. At Pusateri’s, Marcy has strived to create community by serving healthy food. “Food can change the world. My dad was Italian, and we believe food is a very emotional thing,” Marcy says. “A bond also forms when you share cultural foods because you’re taking them in. You’re accepting them.”
In the 80’s, Marcy wrote their first play, Lesbians Who Wear Lipstick: The Musical, and in 2019 Marcy paid it forward, teaching a playwriting workshop series at The 519 with Outwrites. “I got people who were so nervous to read their work out loud, and they discovered for the first time that people thought their work was funny or moving,” Marcy says.
As for the future, Marcy hopes for action. “It’s really a shame that we live in a world where instead of saying, ‘Yes, we need to fix these things,’ people say, ‘You’re naïve if you think anything will ever happen.’ Not with THAT attitude!” they say, “We need to put people ahead of property tax and stop sucking the heart and soul out of things.”
Despite being ready for retirement, Marcy is sad to say goodbye to interactions with community members. “I started telling people I was retiring a while ago so they could start getting used to it because I have people who have been coming to see me for 14 years,” Marcy says. Humans aren’t the only guests that will be missed. “We started letting dogs in, and I would give them little chicken treats. Every dog in the neighbourhood thinks of me as the chicken lady!”
Thank you, Marcy, for your years of service to the neighbourhood!