The concept of selling hours of your life for little or no money is older than I care to research to determine an exact time in which it was put into practice. Most normal people will start off with at least one or a few incredibly crappy jobs. They’re the type of jobs that have miserable employees who are treated like garbage by customers who are the scum of the earth and have no other way to feel good about themselves.
Well after being an Resident Assistant for two years (which was much longer than any other job I had ever held), I quit so that I would have more time to waste on anything but writing. After all, these were the steps I took towards pursuing my dream at the time.
It wasn’t long before I realized an obvious fact about life. If you don’t work, you don’t have money. If you don’t have money, nothing is good. Some people say that money can’t buy happiness and they might be right, but I wouldn’t know seeing as how I’ve never had any money. Nobody says that poverty can buy happiness. Actually I’m sure somebody somewhere does because this is a big world full of all types of people. This hypothetical person is out of their damned mind.
Needless to say, I started looking for a job. It wasn’t easy in those years right after the financial collapse. I should say it wasn’t easy for most people. I got hired at the first place I applied to. For the most part I’m a pretty unlucky guy. Somehow all of my luck has become concentrated in the arena of finding employment.
It was a new pizza franchise, Marco’s Pizza. If you’ve read some of my blog posts, you know that pizza and I go way back and that it’s something easy enough that I can do it in my sleep.
Well, not Marco’s. Marco’s had standards and the most adept micro-manager in the history of people who are awful at their jobs. Her name was Patty and she was a raging Bitchasaurus. Patty supervised much of my training, which to give you some perspective, was extremely unnecessary seeing as how she was in charge of managing multiple locations within the franchise. She never let the scope of her responsibilities get in the way of counting how many pepperonis I put on each pizza though. Or how precisely I stuck to the telephone script for taking orders. No matter how busy the store was, she ALWAYS had time to be right there breathing down my neck.
Luckily, she had a great teaching style. She would tell me to move out of the way while she made the pizzas for me, all the while shaming my efforts. Minimum wage pizza makers are kinda supposed to count pepperonis, but customers truly don’t give a crap. They don’t taste the difference between 28 and 30 pepperonis. It’s one of many instances where “Close Enough” is identical to its cousin, “Good Enough.”
I only worked a few days that first week. It was hell. I hated it. Nobody had heard of this stupid chain and I didn’t make any money in tips because there were so few orders. I didn’t know the delivery area and I didn’t have a GPS to back me up. If I called the store for directions, they put me on with Patty and I experienced the sudden urge to just drive as far away as possible in one direction until my car ran out of gas.
After being totally lost on a delivery and having plenty of time to stew in my own frustration, I decided I would wait for the opportune moment and then quit. There was no longer a need to keep my temper in check with this lady. Next time she was asking for it, oh I was gonna let her have it.
I was only there for a week and a half, but I got to know one of the shift leads pretty well. He was as laid back as Patty was wound up and we bonded pretty quickly over the single closing shift that I worked at this crap factory.
It was my second Friday at Marco’s when I took a delivery to a high school football game. The booster club was selling pizza by the slice at the concession stand. As condescendingly as she possibly could, Patty told me to leave the pizza and bring back the hot bags. I took the pizza to the game, left it and was about to walk away bags in hand when the nice parent volunteer behind the counter asked if they could keep the hot bags seeing as how that was the usual arrangement. The customer is always right, but I played it safe and called the store.
Answering the phone was the nice, overweight general manager (who in retrospect I feel bad for seeing as how she wasn’t allowed to do her job with Patty sucking all of the air out of the room with her aura of horribleness). Fat manager told me to go ahead and leave the bags. I did just that, flashing one more toothy smile at the customer before departing.
When I returned to the store, Patty immediately asked me where the hot bags were. I explained that fat manager told me I could leave them with the customer. Patty told me to turn back around and go get them. This was my opportunity, but I didn’t take it. Yet. I went back to get the bags.
Back at the football game, the friendly parent volunteer kindly told me that they were still using the bags to keep the pizza warm as they sold it. I didn’t want to be the bad guy, so I called the fat manager to put her on the phone directly with the customer. Apparently fat manager didn’t want to be the bad guy either, because she told the customer that she could keep the bags for the second time. The customer handed the phone back and I was informed of the resilience of the status quo in terms of hot bag possession. I had tolerated all that I could of this dump. I wanted to lash out, but this wasn’t fat manager’s fault, it was Patty’s. So in a level, controlled, cold-burning temper I calmly told her to “Thank Patty for wasting so much of my time tonight.”
When I came back, I was fired. This was to be expected, but the way that it was carried out was entirely unexpected. Patty, for all her micromanaging, delegated firing me to my buddy shift lead. If you’ve never worked in a fast food chain, shift leads are often high school kids. It wasn’t in this case, but still, that is the level of employee that she chose to do her dirty work.
Being that I liked this guy, I didn’t yell at him when he told me to go inside and get my stuff without talking to anyone, especially Patty. Instead, I flashed my most playful grin as I said, “Come on! Let me have a word with Patty. I’m already fired anyways!” He kindly asked me not to do that and I really felt bad for the position that he was in, so I obliged him.
It was one of the most gratifying experiences in my entire life. As cogs in the system, we all have to put up with so very much bullshit at work. For an exercise in asserting your self-worth, I encourage everyone to take the opportunity one day to tell their boss to fuck themselves. Don’t do it all the time and don’t do it if they aren’t a bad person. Just keep this suggestion in your back pocket for that moment when you can’t take it anymore. I guarantee you it will be worth it. And I’m pretty sure once will last you an entire lifetime!