Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Forty-five

Posted by ilbebe on February 5, 2009

Towards the end of my junior year of high school, I was caught stealing a bottle of brandy from the restaurant I worked at and fired. The summer that followed was awesome, Ryan started playing drums and our band, The Amish Playboys, practiced every day at Garrett’s house. Writing songs has started getting a lot easier since I had started obsessing over the Mr. T Experience and their steady diet of power chords, and we were making up new songs weekly, many of which I still feel are pretty good. Other than play music, we mostly lazed around Garrett’s house harassing him about his burgeoning internet addiction and went on aimless drives around East CoCo County in my Studebaker. Shortly after the lazy times of summer ended, the money I had saved before being canned ran out, so in order to keep up with gas and insurance I got a job at a Papa Murphy’s take-and-bake pizza place.

Starting with the interview, I knew the job would be vastly different than my last. A highlight of my employment at the restaurant was one Christmas Eve when the owner swaggered up to me and palmed me forty bucks, saying “Merry Christmas. I’m sorry you have to work tonight, on Christmas, work is for the blacks.” My interview with Hank, the manager at Papa Murphy’s, was about five minutes long and mainly consisted of Hank telling me about his recent trip to Nashville for a country songwriting workshop. The assistant manager was his brother Rein, who quit three months after I started to take a much more lucrative gig as a bartender, but not before telling me about his half-decade long battle to get out of less than a thousand dollars of credit card debt. He’d come very close to paying it off earlier that year, but had failed to pass up a sale on VCRs at Sears and was back in the vortex again. Hank was not much more sophisticated.

Rein’s departure put him in a sour mood, and more than once he talked enviously about Rein, working at a TGI-Friday’s-type place somewhere in the Tracy Mall, was “making like thirty bucks a night, cash, and hanging out with hot chicks all the time.” By the end of January, Hank had broken up with his girlfriend of a few years and was making severely unwanted passes at one of my coworker after failing to get with a girl that worked at the Baskin Robbins next door. On Super Bowl Sunday, as I licked my wounds from having been broken up with by my girlfriend the previous evening, he said “Landon, I really want you to hear this,” and played me his two-song demo tape (awful), and his favorite Genesis song (slightly less awful, but mercifully at least not ‘In The Air Tonight’. I think I might have exploded if he played me that song.) The day after Valentine’s Day he told me he had gotten up the previous morning before dawn to watch the sunrise and realized how happy he was to be single, so I was not surprised when he was fired a few days later because the female coworker of mine he’d been terrorizing finally called the owner.

The owner made the specious move of hiring a new manager rather than promoting from within, his justification being that the assistant manager Dan was nineteen and not ready to run the store. Marlene was in her forties was a bit of a hard ass, and I quickly fell into the uncomfortable position of being made an example of in a positive way, i.e. Landon’s Working Pretty Hard, Maybe The Rest Of You Could Step It Up? After her first week there, Marlene hired her friend Patti, who was also in her forties, and you have to realize how weird this was because besides Dan, the rest of us were under eighteen. Patti was a fucking wreck, constantly late because “You don’t even wanna know how long it takes to walk here from my other job”, which was at a McDonalds about a mile away, and always complaining about her bad back and sore feet. One time she indignantly snapped “I know how to talk proper!” after Dan made fun of her horrible grammar, and her finest moment was one day when she showed up and told Dan that she couldn’t be asked to bend over at all that shift because he uterus had “fallen out.” By the grace of a God that may not even exist, Marlene went AWOL for four days less than a month after starting. Patti was canned alongside her, and the golden reign of Dan the Manager began.

Dan lived in the first neighborhood my family had lived in after moving to Brentwood, so I had known him since I was eleven, and used to cover his paper route sometimes. I am to this day impressed by his skill at shitting on demand when material is needed to Shitbag someone. We did all the usual stupid stuff that bored teenagers do at food jobs; shaking up 2-liters of soda in the parking lot and throwing them up in the air to watch them explode on the pavement, taking the phone off of the hook when we didn’t feel like taking orders, seeing who could fit in the dryer in the back, putting “experiments” on top of the walk-in to see what weird colors they would turn, you get the idea. Our only outside supervision under Dan’s steed was the owner’s son Todd, who had failed to graduate from Chico State after nine years and been given the bullshit job of regional manager by his Dad to check up on the whopping three Papa Murphy’s he owned. Todd was easy to ignore.

There was a great parade of memorable co-workers; Stinky Crotch Girl, the girl with huge boobs who LOVED horses, Doug who would always let the floor drain overflow when he was high, the dude who got fired after he gave another guy methadone when that guy asked if anyone had something for a headache, and Tre, who stabbed himself in the leg while trying to slice a tomato he’d thrown in the air, drove himself to the hospital, and then came back to finish his shift. Customer service highlights included an incident when a guy who was pissed off said “Come on, buddy, the first thing they teach you in business school is that the customer is always right,” to which I replied “Eh, sir, if I’d gone to business school I don’t think I’d be working here.” Another one I’ll never forget was a guy who called after getting home and complaining that we’d forgotten to give him his breadsticks side order. I apologized and said he was welcome to come back and pick them up, and he got irate and demanded that we give him something else for free to make it worth his while. After I said no, he blurted out Look, I Just Got Back From Mexico And I’m Really Sunburned. After a lengthy “Uhhhh…” on my part, he hung up.

I was planning to quit at the end of July because I was moving away in August to start college, but the store was abruptly sold at the beginning of the month to new owners who owned the two other Papa Murphy’s nearest to us and were looking to consolidate their empire. Their first order of business was to call a meeting and introduce a corporate type they’d brought into re-train us, and after that meeting ended I told them I’d just as soon quit. Their ludicrous plea to get me to stay, since I was by then one of two people over eighteen working there and thus “legally” qualified to touch the dough mixer, was that if I stayed home and went to community college, they’d pay for my books. I laughed, took my shirt off, and left, and he only time in my eighteenth year of life I felt more superior than then was when I told an army recruiter that his plan for me to drop out of college and then return with the GI Bill was fucking retarded, click.

Having nothing to do with the fact that I had turned eighteen and graduated from high school during my employment at the Papa Murphy’s, I felt that it was one of those experiences where I went in a boy and emerged a man. A man who was only learning the delights of ten-dollar jug vodka.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: