Water Cooler Musings: On Wieners

I walked into the break room today to see Craig playing around with little scraps of red construction paper, then Sara came in and saw Craig playing around with little scraps of red construction paper. Apparently the paper was hers, and apparently the scraps weren’t really scraps but pieces she had cut out into actual … Continue reading Water Cooler Musings: On Wieners

I Did What? My Sordid Job History, Volume 8

“The buffet. This is where I win all my money back!”

In late summer of 1999 I was on the phone with the lovely people from McDonald’s, telling them the size of shirt I needed, and they were promising me three brand new shirts for my first day working there on the following Monday. Keep in mind I hadn’t really accepted the job at that point, but it was their sign that they were pushing hard to sign me to a long term deal. I felt like Dikembe Mutombo when the Sixers offered him big money to play basketball for them, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to play for the Sixers. McDonald’s wasn’t quite the job I wanted to have on my resume as a 21-year old man who had no designs on working fast food for the rest of his life.

Luckily for me that same day I had an interview with Mr. Gatti’s, a buffet pizza chain with several franchise locations in the Tennessee area. It was my last chance to get out of O’Charley’s, where my hours had dwindled precipitously as the summer tumbled head over heels into autumn. Because I was the only one working, I needed a place that could give me hours and a chance to move up so I could make even more money over the long haul, and I somehow didn’t think McDonald’s was that place. But I was so desperate to get out of O’Charley’s that I was seriously considering it. And then Gatti’s happened.

Funny enough, my first wife and I had just visited the establishment on Kingston Pike for lunch one day and saw the employment sign. I had filled out an application right then and there (back in the time where all applications were still in paper format), but had nearly forgotten about it by the time I received the call from McDonald’s about the shirts. Not less than half an hour later I got a call from Mr. Gatti’s, I went in for the perfunctory interview, and the rest is history. I was happy to call McDonald’s back and let them know they could give those nice new shirts to someone else who wore size XL. Continue reading “I Did What? My Sordid Job History, Volume 8”

Keeping It Brand: Part 11

Carrie Underwood? Yes, please.

I could’ve sworn I saw Carrie Underwood in Target today. You know how it is when you think you recognize someone but you don’t want to be stupid enough to call their name, only to realize it isn’t them when they don’t even turn around. Or worse yet, when they turn around and you realize it isn’t who you thought it was. Now, I’ve never met Miss Underwood before, so it was definitely possible I had made a mistake, but I wasn’t willing to give up on the dream just then. So I followed her. And I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t like that at all. I just didn’t want to embarrass either of us when I inevitably yelled, “Carrie!” as if we were old friends. But it wasn’t her, I found out when I caught up with her cart. I was glad I didn’t yell out or ask for her autograph. Close call. I did say hi, though, because I say hi to everyone who walks into my domain, and she smiled at me, so it wasn’t all bad.

If you didn’t know, I work at Target, where we all wear red & khaki and hopefully smiles as well. I have stories I could tell you every single day, tales from work that you wouldn’t believe actually happened. Today was no different. The following are true quotes from guests who I talked to while they were shopping in the store:

“Is there a bathroom in every department?”

“Do you guys carry shrimp rolls, you know, like at a restaurant?”

“What happened to all the pools?”

“Do you still have real books here?” Continue reading “Keeping It Brand: Part 11”

I Did What?: My Sordid Job History, Volume 7

The cattle were lowing, and making more manure.

It was only my first day of high school and I was sticky with sweat, my brand new sneakers were ruined, and I smelled like manure. Not to mention that I had cried my eyes out no less than two times, my parents had left me to fend for myself, and my prospect of getting friends was dim, considering I smelled like manure. Home seemed too far away to dream about, and my sister was pretending not to know me. Yes, my high school career started off with a bit of a bang, you know, like most people’s. And I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it was 23 years ago.

See, I went to a boarding school in mid-western Pennsylvania where they practiced what they preached. It was all about helping god help you, or something like that. Which meant that even thought the tuition to attend the school was larger than a golden goose egg, the school made sure all of its students worked to help lower that tuition. They were called on-campus and off-campus jobs, and they were not all created equal. Needless to say I got the worst possible job, in my opinion, working on the campus farm.

When we arrived at school on the Sunday before the first day of school, my parents had no idea what job I was going to picked to do, but I had high hopes. I wanted to work in the administration building, maybe answering phones or cleaning floors or something. I thought that job would be possibly even fun, but when we got up to the work assignment table in the gym I was hit with the truth. In the state of Pennsylvania, as a 13-year old there was only one on- or off-campus job that I could legally perform. You guessed it: the farm. As soon as they told us, I was so shell-shocked that I just stared down at my brand new white sneakers purchased specifically for a new school and a new attitude for me. I knew they were toast. Continue reading “I Did What?: My Sordid Job History, Volume 7”

I Did What?: My Sordid Job History, Volume 6

I think a lot about the jobs people do and how they ended up there, just one of my many quirks being a people watcher. When I was in the mall the other day I saw this girl working at one of those “turn gold into cash” kiosks that takes all your gold and gives you a pittance for it. She was sitting there on a stool reading a book. Blonde hair. Nose ring. Angular face. The book she was reading was in another language, possibly Russian. I would say she was no more than 25 years old. And I thought about why she was working at that kiosk, how she even found out about the job, and what it would pay to do something like that. I almost walked over and asked her those questions, but she was working, even though no one else was approaching her kiosk. That’s just how my mind works, and I do that same thing many times during any day. Then I started thinking about what people see when they look at me when I’m working. Do they wonder those same things about me, or do they just go on about their day oblivious to the curious stories they might be missing out on?

When I first moved here 11 years ago I needed a job in the worst way. I hadn’t yet finished my undergraduate degree, and I was having to stay with my girlfriend’s mother for at least the first month while I found that job so that I could support myself. That first week up here I was scouring every single ad for jobs in all the local papers, placing phone calls for interviews, and even visiting a staffing solutions company, yet nothing seemed to pan out. The staffing solutions company had nothing that fit my qualifications, and because I was going to be going back to school in the fall (I moved here in late May), my hours were a difficulty to get past. That’s why I didn’t get that job at the prison, and why even though I was able to get a writing job for a computer company it was royalty dependent, so in essence I didn’t even get paid for that job until the software was released along with my companion writing piece. It was beyond frustrating. I even thought about selling encyclopedias door to door, but bailed at the last minute. Continue reading “I Did What?: My Sordid Job History, Volume 6”

I Did What?: My Sordid Job History, Volume 5

A cruise sounds nice.

You know how it is when you don’t expect something but it falls into your lap anyway, and you realize later that it was the exact thing you needed at the perfect time you needed it? Well, in the summer of 1994 I had one of those moments. I had just graduated from high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I had just gotten back from an extended trip to Alabama where I had experienced real freedom for the first time. I wanted to see more of the world, to enjoy the kinds of freedoms that Alabama had only given me a hint of, and to be involved in experiences that stretched my mind. And a travel agency was the perfect place for all of those dreams to converge, in that summer of ’94.

My high school sponsored a program that allowed select students to complete paid internships at local businesses. Because we were an inner city school there were many such programs made available to us. Somehow I was one of the students selected, and they told me I had been given the Rosenbluth Travel Agency as my work destination. Continue reading “I Did What?: My Sordid Job History, Volume 5”