November 7, 2018

do you want that toasted

The Kid has decided that he wants a job at the Subway a few blocks from our home.  He's using their online application process.

I've been rubbing my chin and trying to figure out his motive.  It might be money, but it also might be wanting to feel better about himself, as he sometimes lapses into self-pummeling bouts of low self-esteem for being lazy (merited) and forgetful (totally merited) and in danger of living in our basement forever (please get the laundry off the floor, okay?). 

The Kid's a good kid.  He knows his own mind.  And as his preschool teacher once told me, he's going to do what he's going to do.  Orders and commands and rules are taken as guidelines and advice. 

Come to think of it, that isn't exactly going to serve him well in the workplace.  But he does well at school, so there is evidence that he knows when to switch that off.  I've just never personally been the beneficiary of it.

I started working at Wendy's the day I turned fifteen years old.  I think they hired me because during my interview, I stated (with full sincerity) that I wanted to be a missionary some day.  This was considered tantamount to a strong work ethic and an infusion of wholesomeness into the staff.  In retrospect, this is downright infuriating, but at the time, it served.

That illusion lasted until I was asked to mop the floor, and I stood holding the mop and staring at my manager.  "What do I do?" I asked.  His face was blank for a moment, and then started turning red, because he thought I meant that I considered myself above such a menial task.  "You're too good to mop?" he sputtered.  Whoa.  "No, sir," I said, "I want to mop.  Really.  I've just never done it before.  Show me the ropes and I'll know.  Please?"

I redeemed myself and became a kick-ass crew member.  Within a year, I was running the drive-thru on Friday nights, working the cash register and window with my left hand, the drink machine and order pad with my right, and the foot pedal to talk and take orders.  I turned around and bagged.  I made the line fly by.  The other managers loved me, but the Mop-Manager forever after took delight in asking me to do things like scrape ketchup residue from around door seals and scrub out the tea urns until my elbows ached.  I managed not to smile when the others called him by his nickname, Golf Ball Head.

There was a lesson there, and it was this:  There are small-minded people in the world and sometimes you still have to do what they say.

I learned other lessons:

Food fights aren't worth it, primarily because coffee grounds go everywhere and it will take you until two in the morning to find them all.

People love when you remember them and have their order ready before they even say what they want.

People can change their minds and surprise you, just when you think you know them.

A chocolate Frosty is just four-percent chocolate milk poured into a magical machine.

You will gain weight if you pour and drink a glass of Frosty milk instead of pouring it into the machine.

If you put your forearm against the door of an industrial-grade potato-baking oven, you will later have a scar to show your kid and a story to tell.

Don't fuck with a three-legged wharf rat.

Don't judge others because they're working in a job that represents the height of their potential.  They might not be academic scholars living the American myth of unstoppable upward mobility, but they have grit in spades, and that is something the vast majority of us could use.

Sometimes, the tables just wobble.  Life is going to have wobbly tables.

If you play a joke and put sardines inside the hubcaps of your manager's 1986 Pontiac in July, don't get caught.


I wonder if The Kid will get a job.  I wonder if, if they say "no" the first time, he'll persevere and work to convince them, even if it takes months.  I wonder if, if they say "no" the first time and maybe the second time, he'll stop even trying for any job and consider himself condemned and worthless. 

I wonder how I'll keep from stepping in as Supermom, instead letting life deal with him and letting him deal with life.

1 comment:

  1. Lille,
    Wise words, indeed! I hope The Kid goes out and kicks butt in whatever he endeavors! A colleague recently told me, "Your kids are not who they are when you're with them, they are who they are when you're not around!" If you don't parse that too harshly, my colleague makes an interesting point. We never get to see and experience our kids as other people see and experience them. However, it sounds like The Kid has been brought up by loving parents and probably has a good head on his shoulder and will do well. I'm sure you are proud! Great post! Mona

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