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Valerie Bates: On the job

When the overnight shift gets slow at the Steak & Egger, waitress Valerie Bates, 35, wipes counters, reads the paper and jokes with coworkers and regulars. The key -- as with customers Stanley McFerren of Bellwood and Levelle Blue (right) of Chicago's Auburn-Gresham neighborhood -- is to keep... Tribune photo by Chris Sweda