Friday, October 06, 2006

Wally's World Of Work Part 5

Another installment where Wally takes us through his wonderful college era part-time jobs. When last we met I had just been laid off by Cummings Signs.

After getting laid off by Cummings I didn’t work for some time. I concentrated on college and my punk band The Dislocated. I gave up my Toyota truck; at least some kind people came by in the middle of the night and got it. When the unemployment checks stopped coming I took a job delivering phone books. I got to drive out to the boondocks and brave homicidal dogs and crazy rednecks that preferred to not get their phonebook. I passed out what I could over 2 days time, collected my money, and returned to the ranks of the unemployed.

Here’s where my memory grows sketchy. Did I work at the skateboard shop before going back to McDonalds or was the skateboard shop a job I took in between 3rd and 4th go around at the golden arches. Either way the skateboard shop was a dream job. Business was slow, but I got to work a job that revolved around my favorite hobby of the time. Young skate rats would get out of junior high school and come hang around until I closed up at 6 pm and then my crew of Gonz, Black Belt, and myself would thrash the streets of Murfreesboro until midnight. I only saw the owners on payday. The rest of the time I was completely unsupervised.

Which was not the case at McDonalds. At this point you’re going to want to ask me why in the world I would go back to Mickey D’s. Glad you asked; here’s why. The skateboard shop had closed due to lack of business so I was unemployed again when my punk rock buddy D.D. Blank asked me to go to New York City with him. All I needed was food money. So I needed a job and I needed one fast. The late, great Smooth Gray was now an assistant manager at the McDonalds where I had gotten my first job.

So it was a cinch getting on there again. Smooth was raking in the dough since he’d been smart enough not to accept their offer of going salary. He was putting in lots of overtime while attending college, but the dude was a joy to work under. There was also a cute restaurant manager named Stephanie and another of the assistants was a girl I’d gone to high school with named Rhonda E. So I wasn’t too bummed out about being a fry clerk again. I knew it was just temporary until the big trip.

This McDonalds was a zoo. The employees didn’t seem quite as serious as those back in 1985. There were lots of harsh words between workers including one night when this really big girl stuffed a smaller guy into a trash can. There was also lots of dating among the workers. So I got stupid and started dating a little punk rock princess named Iva. It was such a scene that even Black Belt enjoyed a spillover effect as he started going on dates with some of lovely co-workers. It was during this go-around that the naked guy came through the drive-thru one night.

It was very late and only one drive-thru window was open. An older lady was running it. I was in the back doing some pearl diving when she came running to the manager’s desk. “A naked guy just came through the drive-thru,” she exclaimed. The story: he drove up and requested a coffee while pointing toward his seat. He opened his coat to reveal nothing on underneath. He then asked my co-worker if she saw anything she liked. She just snickered and told him that she’d seen better. The dude gets embarrassed at that, turns red and drives off. I was just glad I wasn’t working the window that night.

Most of the time that’s what I did. Once they figured out I was unfailingly accurate at the cash register I rarely had to flip a burger. I would get to sit at the first window, collect money, and fold Happy Meal boxes. It wasn’t too bad except for the occasional jerk customer or too. I was accused of shortchanging a dude once after he tried to pull the “I gave you a twenty instead of a ten grift.” The owner’s wife who liked to pretend she was a manager was there that night and to her credit she pulled my register, counted it, and found that he was lying. He was irate, but not so much as the dude who’s Camaro got hit one night.

This proud mullet wearing dude was in a white Camaro with his wife and kid and was waiting for the line to move. A car came around to the speaker and tried to order something, but I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. After a couple of attempts he puts his car in drive and pushes the petal to the floor slamming his car into the barrier pole in front of my window, bouncing him into the Camaro. This was shocking enough to me, but when the guy and his passenger get out and push their now smashed automobile away from the Camaro, jump back in, and then haul ass out of the parking lot we’re all in disbelief. The Camaro driver is steaming and I get a great story to tell now when I drive through a McDonalds.

I went on my NYC trip, but since I was seeing Iva I kept working at McDonalds. As the summer wore on things went wrong with me and the pet rat loving waif and our relationship hit the skids. Just as that soured so did my working relationship with the restaurant manager. Things were still cool with Smooth, but he cut back his hours so I didn’t see him much. I finally quit over ketchup. Ketchup packs to be exact.

Customers in the drive-thru always asked for more which would slow the line down. When I was running orders, instead of taking them, I decided to expedite matters by throwing as many ketchup packs as I could into the customers’ bags. After being admonished for such a high level of customer service by Stephanie I decided to call it a day. This time I swore I’d never go back and I’ve kept my word.

Next on the list of crappy jobs are a couple more restaurant gigs. First up is Demo’s in Murfreesboro where I was hired on as part of the original start-up crew. I didn’t want to wait on tables and I didn’t know how to cook much so I went for the busboy position. I made it through one day of training and never went back. They were nice enough to mail me my check. One food I could cook was pizza so I landed a position at one of the many Middle Tennessee Sir Pizza restaurants. I toiled there for a few miserable weeks under the thumb of a couple of older women that liked to smoke cigarettes while they made the food. Food service as a part-time job was beginning to seriously gross me out. Retail was calling my name.

The next installment will be all about that corporate behemoth Wal-Mart since for two short years I was a Wal-Martian.

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