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Book of Jobs Part 2


by Chris Auman

A help wanted sign permanently displayed in the window of any business should be regarded as a bad omen — a big, glaring red flag. It literally translates to “This Place Sucks, Run Away NOW!”, but after the Ugly Bar incident, I was completely demoralized and in a state of perpetual brokedness. So, after passing by the neighborhood Italian fast food joint several dozen times, I eventually broke down, went in and asked for an application. I was hired immediately, of course. I started that week on the day shift working 9-4. I worked ten or so days in a row and was on a six day per week schedule after that. It was a no-brainer gig, I mean, it was fast food. You had your Italian beef, your Italian sausage, your Italian meatball sandwiches, subs, fries, mozzarella sticks, fried mushrooms, all that crap. After working on the line and washing dishes in a few full-service restaurants, this work was a breeze. Ah, but there was a catch. The owner was a certified nut job with a Napoleon complex, a short temper and all the patience and understanding of a four year old. We’ll call him Mike. Mike was an Italian-American transplanted from New Jersey. He allegedly lost a ton of money in the stock market crash in ‘87. He supposedly bought the restaurant because it was a cash business and I’m assuming he thought that the cash would be earned fast and easy.

Even though he visibly hated it, Mike was there serving the public every day Monday through Sunday. What made him so perfect as the public face of the restaurant was that he had absolutely no people skills whatsoever. In fact, he could in no way hide or disguise his disdain for his customers. His view that everybody other than himself was a complete idiot certainly extended to his employees as well. To be fair, he did employ a fair number of idiots. I would not have lasted as long as I did (three years!) had I not made the move to the night shift which had me arriving each day just as Mike was leaving. Mike actually liked me, I guess. At the very least he found me not too stupid enough. I never called in sick or asked for time off and I generally made it to work on time, although sometimes with the type of intense hangover only a twenty-one-year-old can create for themselves. Eventually, entirely by default, I was made an assistant manager, then manager. Even after I quit I returned to work part-time for a few months here and there when I needed money. I have hundreds of stories and humorous anecdotes about this restaurant and the employees who came through its revolving door, but that would take an entire issue unto itself.

How was I able to work with such a miserable human being for such a long time is a question I’ve asked myself. It’s all about taking what could be perceived as a really shitty job and making it suit your purposes. For me, I eventually got promoted with a pay raise and health insurance. I did not have to work directly with funky boss, usually ever. I got free food, it was a fifteen minute walk from my apartment and I had a schedule that allowed me to finish college while working part- or full-time as my current schedule allowed. And I could do that job in my sleep. When I just couldn’t stomach the place any longer, I put in my two weeks, didn’t burn the bridge and always had a place to go back to. All I had to do in return was put up with a whole lot of bullshit. No big deal. That’s what six packs are for. I drank one every night. But most importantly, that place was completely different at night. We ran it and we didn’t steal or drink on the job (well, we did spike the lemon ice one time, but that was because we were forced to work on the Fourth of July. The point is, we had fun. Too much fun, probably. We were experts at playing the dozens. We took “Your Mama” jokes to new heights, exploring new territory and experimental formats that would reach surreal, even esoteric levels, only to bring it all back down to street level again. We ate “beef buddies” and mozz sticks whenever we wanted to and we usually went out drinking after work. It was that camaraderie that exists in the restaurant industry that allows you to forget you have such a shitty job, are covered in grease and still broke most of the time. Some of you know what I’m talkin’ about. Hooyah! It wa also when I started publishing the zine you are reading right now. So there’s that.

Slinging Veggie Hash >>

Originally published in RW#23, 2014

RW #23


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