Thursday, May 10, 2007

Uniform

Over in Meatworld, TK was recently mentioning how his father made him work construction summer jobs as a kid, as it was supposed to "build character." So it got me thinking a little bit about my own illustrious pre-professional career. Let me tell you, I got so much fuckin' character built into my system during my formative years, I've got it coming out my ass!

Here are some noteworthy excerpts into some of the abuse and torment I suffered at the hands of menial labor:

1993-1994: I was 15 when I got my first job at a local pharmacy/grocery/gift type of store. A couple of the 20-something female low-level managers continually harassed me, because apparently they found something threatening in my slight and affable quirkiness. One of them actually threatened to beat me up, standing in front of my register, after I wearily told her to fuck off. Nine months into the job I ended up quitting in tears, mid-shift.

1997: The summer after my Freshman year of college I got a waitressing job at a local seafood restaurant. After repeatedly fending off the advances and gropings of the 37 year old restaurant owner, "Lenny," I was eventually demoted to the lunch shift, (some new, sluttier girls got my weekend nights) which attracted so few customers I was forced to quit.

1999: The summer after Junior year of college I got a job at an Exxon station out of convenience since it was less than a mile from my parent's home. It paid minimum wage and when people stole gasoline it came out of my paycheck, although I'm pretty sure that was illegal. Let me just say, you can't fully grasp the concept of "demeaning" until you've cleaned gas station bathrooms. I quit soon after one of the cretins who worked there drop kicked a stale bagel into my face and almost broke my nose.

1999 (Pt. 2): Since the whole Exxon gig worked out so awesomely, winter break that same year I decided to try my hand at Sunoco. I lasted one day. The guy who eventually became my brother in law will probably tell you his favorite memory of me was walking into the Sunoco that day and seeing me with a coffee pot in each hand and that fruity fucking little necktie they made me wear; my face instantly turning beet red. I started plotting my escape about halfway through the shift.

2000: My last year of college I worked in a grocery store deli/seafood department. Definitely the most outstanding stopping point of our journey thus far. I think every American thinks it's his or her God given right to treat deli counter employees like pure shit. If you want to witness the lowest depths of human depravity, go observe people standing in line at a deli counter. One time two customers even got into a physical altercation in which law enforcement had to be summoned. I'm not even shitting you; one lady actually bit another lady.

It didn't help that the unsanitary practices of this store were nothing short of appalling. I was instructed to sell moldy cheese and rotting lunch meat, as well as lobsters and other shellfish that arrived to the store already dead. (Lobsters, crabs, clams and etcetera have to be alive when you you cook it, or you can get really sick.) When the little tubs of macaroni and potato salad sold on the refrigerated shelves expired, we were instructed to empty them into the tubs behind the counter to sell by the pound. Unsold rotisserie chickens? Went into storage for a couple weeks until we had accumulated enough to pick the spoiled meat from the carcasses to make "chicken salad" out of. Nothing was allowed to go to waste.

In addition to these atrocities, because of the unsafe working conditions I visited the emergency room twice in the three months I worked there. One time I cut the tip of my finger in half cleaning the cheese slicer and another time I slipped on a wet floor (MATS?? Are for pussies!!) and gouged my wrist out on a sharp, ill advised piece of metal sticking out of the wall. Here is photographic evidence of the lovely scar I carry with me to this day. (Next to my bitchin' tattoo, of course.)

2000-2001: In the transition between college and professional employment, I got a job waitressing at an upscale dining establishment, working for a maniacal tyrant who was fond of screaming obscenities and throwing objects at the wait and kitchen staff. On my first dinner shift he threw a bread basket at my head because I didn't know where they were kept. Another time he made me cry while I was waiting on a table which sat my 6th grade teacher. I ended up getting fired after a particularly hectic evening as a result of the kitchen cooking someone's steak wrong and a new bartender telling me that they didn't carry a regular customer's favorite brand of whiskey. It was probably for the best.

And there you have it! Getting through adolescence without at least one traumatizing work experience is pretty much fucking unamerican, so please feel free to add your own stories and anecdotes. Thinking back on it all kinda puts the following 6-7 years of cubicles and petty office gripes into perspective. Moral of the story? Stay in school, kids!

16 comments:

TK said...

AWESOME. God, not one, but TWO gas stations? That is fucking outstanding.

As is the tattoo, by the way. But I'm not being ironic this time.

Seriously, I've worked some shit jobs in my time, but I wouldn't clean a gas station bathroom to save an infant's life. Seriously. Hell, I won't even pee in one, fuck cleaning it.

litelysalted said...

We used the toilet water to mop the floor. I am not making that up.

I had to go back and update the deli section because I forgot about the time two customers got into a fight. Now that was outstanding.

aejr said...

You should get an award... two gas stations, a supermarket, seafood places, and waitressing. It's definitely worth two tours in Iraq.

TK said...

That's it, we need to officially make this a challenge. I'm writing a post at the meat factory, let's see if we can get everyone to talk about the shit jobs they've worked.

sme said...

I hope to god that the deli you worked at that served all of that rotten food no longer exists. That is horrifying.

Ahhh. Menial Labor. I'm still stuck at that level. It's depressing.

litelysalted said...

Awww, you'll get out eventually, sme!

Fabulous idea, tk... I keep revising this as I remember more and more shit about these jobs, and I will pose an invitation for my readers (who are many of the same as your readers) to share!

MEECH! said...

Two items; combine them:
1) McDonald's Playplace tubes
2) Human excrement

Being employed at McD's (for 5.15 an hour) was pretty much the lowest point of my whole life.

I have to also mention the time that I walked into the women's bathroom there (to clean them, of course) and found an Indian woman WASHING HER SON in the sink. He was completely naked, and she was scrubbing his ASS in the fucking SINK. I walked out, walked to the storage room, and cried - because I knew I was the lucky fucko who was going to end up cleaning it allll up.

Yes, I mightily enjoy the stresses of an actual career. There's shit involved in both jobs, but I much prefer the smell now.

slouchmonkey said...

This is the BEST! I'm going to post my shit-assed work experience as well. Like you, it'll probably be updated several times, the more I recall.

Simply lovely!

litelysalted said...

Two items; combine them:
1) McDonald's Playplace tubes
2) Human excrement


GASP! Can't breathe.. Laughing... Too hard...

TK said...

It's done. Here you go.

Manny said...

http://manny-hispanicatthedisco.blogspot.com/2007/05/my-resumes-bigger-than-yours.html

I suck at HTML, or ADD, or whatever it is that TK did to post the link. So there.

Osbourne Black said...

All my jobs have been... like my life... just flippin' perfect.

Somebody kill me now.

I love you in the face said...

Your tatt is bitchin'!!

All my jobs have been relatively decent, I guess. I spent my teen years in foreign countries and any 'working' I did was basically comprised of a cakewalk at some Embassy art camp or as a clerical assistant for a government bigwig. In college, it was all about working my tookus off as a waitress/dishwasher/coffee whore but all my friends did the same thing so I always had someone to talk to or slack off with.

I guess the one exception to decency is you-know-where... but even that yielded some friendly friends of awesomeness.

Maybe my good fortune jobwise is why everything else in my life blows. Fucking karma.

girl with curious hair said...

Well, I added my boring, nowhere near as hellish story to TK's list, if anyone is interested.

Regarding the lady who bit someone at the deli--well she was just that hungry and there wasn't a bag of chips to rip into. It makes perfect sense.

onthevirg said...

First time reader by way of TK. Good stuff.

Here's mine if anyone wants to take a look.

bionic bunny! said...

HAH!
3 theme parks.
in '76 i made $1.80/hr at six flags/GA. and worked 10 hour shifts. it was fun, though.

and i tore a ligament in my back, and nearly lost a thumb getting it caught in a tape drive, when i was a computer operator ('92).

and yup, i'm old.