Thursday, January 20, 2011

Same Day Service…at your service

After the busy season was over, Highland Department Store didn’t have much use for all the extra employees added during the Holidays. Even though I knew it was coming, I was still a little bummed when my department store career was over. My neighbor, Debbie, could sense it, especially since she had just landed a sweet job at the local dry cleaners. After gushing about how awesome her new career was, she looked at me sympathetically. “They might need more people at the cleaners… I could ask the owner.” Debbie was digging through her collection of cassette tapes she kept in car as she said this. I sighed, trying not to get my hopes up. “Well, that would be cool…” I zipped up my backpack as we pulled into the high school parking lot and told Deb to let me know as soon as she knew anything. Then I headed to class, promising to meet Debbie back at her car after the last bell. Debbie and I carpooled a few days a week and coordinating meeting times was essential so one of us didn’t forget about the other and get left behind. ( I know what you're could you forget a whole person?? Easily...we were teenagers!)

That afternoon, Debbie wanted me to meet her at 2:45 pm sharp because she had to work at 3:30. Later that same evening, I heard the doorbell. I listened to my brother open the door and a few minutes later he called my name. I set aside the homework I’d been working on and looked out my bedroom window. I saw Debbie’s rusty Navy blue Chevrolet in the driveway, and sprinted for the stairs.

Debbie was sitting on the bottom stair, petting our miniature schnauzer, Elka. She looked up as I approached, a smile plastered on her face. “It worked!” I had no idea what she was talking about, our conversation less than 12 hours prior already having worked its way out of my memory. “The cleaners! Critos was there tonight, and I asked if he needed more help, and at first he said, ‘No’, but then he realized he DID need someone else…but it’s for his Griffith store.” Debbie was so excited, she was practically frothing at the mouth as she told me the details. I wasn’t as geared up as her….”But we won’t get to work together…” Debbie frowned. “No, but at least you will have a job…right? Cristos wants you to call him tomorrow.”

After I spoke to Cristos, I told my mom about my plans for the clothes cleaning industry. She nodded, asking how much they paid and what the hours would be. I told her minimum wage. She didn’t look surprised. I would be working on Mondays and Wednesdays after school until the place closed and all day on Saturday. I was supposed to begin next Monday, and I wasn’t sure if I should be excited. I had no idea what to expect.

The following Monday, I dressed for school as I always did on Monday mornings, in pajama pants and an oversized sweatshirt. Because most of my friends also dressed this way after the weekend, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary in the slightest. I forgot that I would need to go directly to the cleaners after school if I was going to make it on time. I shrugged and thought to myself, “It’s the cleaners…they won’t care.”

By the time I realized my GIGANTIC wardrobe fopah, it was already too late. I figured that it would be better for me to show up on time in a bad outfit than late in better attire.I figured WRONG. I walked into the cleaners during their busy “rush”. The small waiting area was full of people picking up stacks of clothing on hangars wrapped in plastic garment bags.

As the crowd dispersed, a middle aged woman with apple cheeks and dark brown hair turned her tired eyes to me. “Pick up or drop off?” she asked. I shook my head. “Neither actually. I’m Erin. Tonight is supposed to my first night.” She sighed. “Ok. Is Cristos coming here?” It took me a minute to realize that her question was being directed at me. “He didn’t say…” Did he say? I had no idea. The exhausted lady picked up an almond colored phone hanging on the faux wood paneling wall, cradling it between her ear and her shoulder as she looked me over. I felt embarrassed, but said nothing. Pretty soon she was talking into the receiver. “Yeah, she’s here. MmmHmm…no, ok…I’ll tell her. Bye.”

The lady replaced the receiver on the wall and introduced herself to me. “I’m Wanda. I’m the store manager. I’m glad Cristos finally decided to hire someone to help me, but you can’t be much older than 15. Don’t you have to go to school?”

I explained the schedule that Cristos and I had worked out. She looked pained and she shook her head. “Damn.” This word was growled, under her breath. I wasn’t sure how I should react. Before I had time to question Wanda any further, I heard the sound of a motorcycle roaring to a stop, and Wanda disappeared into the back room, grabbing wayward items as she went and mumbling curse words.

“What the fuck is that?” I looked up and saw a man staring at me. He was impossibly tall, 6 ft 5, at least. He had a handlebar mustache and shoulder length hair with a distinct bald spot unevenly sprouting in the middle of the top of his head, a few scraggly hairs combed over the milky white ocean of skin between the two rivers of wavy, dirty brown hair. He wore a jean jacket with black leather arms and a flaming Harley on the back. He balanced a helmet on his hip, wedging it under his left arm. I stared at him and he stared back.
“Are you fucking deaf, kid?” I looked behind me and then on either side of me, convinced he was directing his angry questioning at anyone but me. “Wh-what?” I asked shakily.

“Are you Erin?” I nodded. “Today’s your first day, and you’re wearing…what the fuck is it that you are wearing anyway? Are you wearing your fucking pajamas?” I immediately regretted my foolish oversight. I was trying to figure out how to get out of this uncomfortable situation when Cristos went on, “I didn’t tell you about a dress code. I’ll have to dig that shit out of storage.” He gave me one more disgusted look before sighing and saying, “Kids these days! They ain’t got no fuckin sense.” He said the last part more to himself than me. I watched him quietly, not sure if I should talk. The tall man was pacing back and forth, his hair flapping like two hairy wings as he passed in front of the cooling vent.

Wanda emerged from the back, looking frightened and defiant at the same time. “This is my help? That’s all I get, Cristos?” Wait a second…This was the owner? THIS was Cristos? I’d never known a person in a position of authority who threw around curse words like this this guy did. I wasn’t sure what to think about it. It was alarming. It was scary. It was…COOL. I felt a mixture of awe and fear as I watched him and Wanda argue. I realized after a minute that I had been holding my breath, and I let it out in a big gush. Shit! Did they hear me?? I didn’t want to make a sound at this point. I wanted to melt into the wall paper, hide under the counter, jump into the laundry cart, anything to get away from this man’s scrutinizing inspection of me and my inappropriate work wear.

Personalized License Plates

I loate personalized license plates. The cutesy ones "LUVUTOO"; the arrogant ones, "NETWRTH"; the ones that boast their brand of car, "JENSBMW4"; the confusing ones, "L8MRTNG" doesn't matter. I HATE them all! Why is it necessary to expel these cryptic messages on our roadways?? Sometimes, if the plate is REALLY lame, I try to speed up so I can get next to the driver....just so I can have an idea what this kind of a deuche bag really looks like. If I were really bold, I'd roll down my window and give them a piece of my mind! I just saw a plate on a Mercedes the other day that said, "DOINIT"...I so wanted to pull up next to him and say, "Doin what?? Being a deuche bag??"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why do I wait???

I used to be such a good eater; such a great AWESOME at relaxing! Alas, those days are gone. For some reason, I am eeking into the ugly, dreaded, full-of-stress adult world. This is no good. I need to figure out how to get back to where I was! I need 3 hour naps for no good reason! I need 12 uninterrupted hours of pure, blissful sleep! Also, I need to eat healthier! I need to eat big meals without guilt(occassionally)! I need to eat more regularly! I just need to eat!! I used to eat every 3 could set your watch by it. Now, I'm lucky if I eat every 6....what is happening to me??? I even procrastinate about eating now! THAT is how much of a procrastinator I've become! ("become"...who am I kidding?? I've been a procrastinator since my mom was trying to evict me from her womb and I wouldn't leave because I just wanted one more week in there....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The decision has been made.

I'm going to forgo the shower for now...instead, I will slather on some good smelling lotion (thank you, Kelly Munley!), put on some peppermint lipgloss and throw on a hat. I'm gonna do some returns, maybe hit up Ross or Goodwill...who knows?? I WILL shower at some point...just not now. Is this OVERsharing? I guess I shouldn't be telling the world about my poor hygiene habits on lazyday Sundays...oh well, I'm an open book. If you must judge me, then do it behind my back and make sure I don't find out about it please. By the way, I was just thinking...all these modern day conveniences sure do make it easy for stalkers....especially when there are people like me out there who are willing to share their every thought on a public forum. I wonder if I will regret this blog?? Nah...

Getting off the couch...

Sometimes I have a hard time gearing up for a day like today...a day of nothing but running errands, cutting down my 'to do' Kramer would say, TCOB...TCOB!!! (Takin care of Business) *Sigh* Is it bad that I'm trying to decide if I should shower or not?? If I should SHOWER! Is that the ultimate form of laziness??? Geez...BUT then I think, why not enjoy these days now??? Pretty soon Aaron and I are going to have a baby...maybe two, and then I will be wishing for days when my biggest decision was Bed, Bath and Beyond or Lifetime movies...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Easy Cheese

Easy Cheese is SOOOOOO good! I know cheese in a can that needs no refrigeration can't possibly be good for me, but according to the label, it's belly good and it is sooooo yummy!!! MMMMMMMMMMMMM....I forgot about this stuff!
I'm watching tv, and a commercial comes on for "Triphoria" which you can buy at trojan ( between the's something for sex)...on REGULAR tv! I mean I'm no prude by any means, but Wow! This is what's happening now? Sex toy commercials in between episodes of THe Cosby Show??? (Seriously! That's what I'm watching!) Ironically, the next commercial was for "Christian Mingle"!!! Sex Toys then Bible stuff..weird! ...actually maybe it's not ironic at all...maybe it is planned that way to discourage premarital sex??? Hmmm...

I should probably say...

I have changed names in the stories and some things may be slightly embellished for entertainment value. For example, Chris did write that note and he DID give me that book, but he did NOT write that P.S. I made that part up...just wanted to clarify!! Same goes for stuff I have written about anyone else including my sister Katie, my parents and my friends...hope you don't mind!!! LOVE you! :)

To explain all these "chapters"

I've always wanted to be a writer...ever since I was a kid...I can remember BEGGING my mom to take me to the library or book store almost every day...I LOVED books...I still do...and I LOVED to write...I would write my own stories and pretend I was a famous author...making little mini books with a drawing of myself on the back! My brother would taunt me as I spent hours and hours indoors reading, he'd come in from outside, chanting, "Book Worm! Book Worm! Erin's a Book Worm!"

While I LOVE being a speech pathologist, I also still love to read and write...

So, recently, I had this idea to write a book about all the many, many jobs I've had over the years...I would call it: "That's Not in my Job Description: 20 Jobs in Less Than 20 Years"....I've posted a few chapters here online...hopefully they don't suck too much. (I can love to do something and suck at it...)

Nothing is finished....

Just wanted to say that none of the chapters I posted are finished...I'm really just getting started...I have other chapters that I didn't think were good enough yet to share...and I know the ones I already posted need A LOT of work...I'd love any feedback you'd like to offer! Positive or negative!

Fast Food was not designed for slow workers…

I was a freshman in college when I ran for the border in West Lafayette, Indiana. Taco Bell was paying a whopping $6.50 an hour for part time help. In 1997, it was like hitting the jackpot as far as hourly wages went. I was pretty excited when I found out I was hired. I can’t say I was thrilled…I mean, I was going to have to work at a fast food restaurant. I wasn’t delusional…I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, but my eyes were on the prize. I guess I just didn’t realize at the time exactly how humiliating it truly could be.

I can honestly say that being a part time cashier/sous chef/busboy/bathroom attendant at Taco Bell was the hardest job I have ever had. It was literally the first time I had someone give me a job to do and stand there until I had finished it…and finished it well. Usually people gave me things to do (at school, at past jobs, at home) and I would procrastinate for a while before I decided whether I would deem the job assigned to me as worthy of a mediocre half assed effort or a full force, try my best, “wow them” effort.
I hadn’t started this new job yet, but as they handed me my navy polyester, high waisted work pants, collared Taco Bell golf shirt and teal visor, I had a feeling this would not be one of those times when I would strive to “wow them”. I regarded my new uniform disdainfully and was horrified to discover they expected me to start that day, on the spot. I had assumed I would just be running in, picking up my uniform and getting my schedule….WRONG!

Scott Dulane was my manager, but secretly he was my arch nemesis, sent to Earth to make me miserable. He was about the same height at me, which at the time was about 5 ft, 9 inches. I noticed that his shoes had extra thick soles and wondered if he wore them to gain height. I pictured him being the size of an oopma loopma when he got home (that is if he ever left Taco Bell, which I had serious doubts about…) His hair was a perfectly coifed helmet and I often caught him combing it lovingly.

He glared at me and said, “Get dressed in the latrine over yonder.” I was baffled. I used to watch reruns of M.A.S.H. late at night so I knew what “latrine” meant, but I had no idea why he was using it here, now. I was mulling this over when he spoke again. “Come on, we don’t have time for you to sit there and dilly dally.” It was definitely going to take some time to get used to this guy’s way of talking. I cleared my throat and said,
”Um, I need to go tell my ride that I have to stay.” He rolled his eyes. “Well, get on with it then.” I ran out to my friend’s car and explained the situation and then I headed back in to change.

When I emerged from the bathroom, my shirt was untucked (to hide the high waisted, pleatedness on these horrid pants) and my visor was on, but stylishly tilted to one side. Scott was none too pleased with my creative interpretation of Taco Bell’s uniform. He made a beeline for me, his hips twisting awkwardly as he shimmied his lumpy frame over the counter. “That is not the appropriate way to wear an official Taco Bell uniform, young lady.” I stared at him. “Tuck in that shirt and straighten that hat! Have some respect and (at this point, he moved about 2 inches from my face) follow me.”

We passed a time clock and Scott paused to give me a card and let me punch in. He then handed me a giant 3 ring binder. “This is everything that is on the menu. I want you to study this, and when you feel like you have it memorized, I’ll give you a test.” I must have looked as incredulous as I felt because he hurriedly said, “it’s important to know your menu if you want to take people’s orders…what if someone wants to know the difference between a fiesta burrito and an a original burrito, what would you say?” Before I could answer, he went on, “Nothing! That’s what…or you’d be looking for me to save you, which is not what I’m here for. You need to know your menu. Go ahead and get started. You can sit here.” There was a small study corral right next to the soda fountain machine. I set the binder down and pulled the chair out.

I was just about to settle in when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned and saw a boy about my age with a perfectly starched uniform and an unseasonably dark tan. “I’m Bartholomew Jenkins. Everyone calls me Bart. I guess you’re the new girl. Make sure you learn that menu. Scott is a real asshole to people that don’t take this test seriously.” I nodded. “You thirsty? One perk of this job is unlimited pop….yep, all the pop you can drink. What’s your poison? You look like a Dr. Pepper girl.” I nodded again. He handed me a brimming, crackling cup of soda just as I heard a ding from the front door. “Gotta get to work. Start studying!” I watched him walk away as I sipped my drink.

I spent about an hour looking over the menu, and when I felt like I had it sufficiently memorized, I headed to Scott’s office. I made my way down a dimly lit, narrow hallway, framed on each side by metal shelves containing boxes of extra supplies like napkins, sporks and hot sauce. There wasn’t much else back there besides the time clock and a mop and bucket. I approached the door with a half chewed sign that read “MANAGER”. I knocked quietly and waited. Nothing happened. I knocked again, but this time, more forcefully. I waited again, and again, there was no response. I was getting ready to rap again when Scott yanked the door open. “What is it?!” I was so shocked by his greeting I momentarily forgot why I had been coming to his office in the first place. “Well?? What do you want? If you need to use the restroom, you don’t have to ask.” I shook my head and said, “Um, Scott, Mr. Scott, sir, I finished studying. I’m ready for the test.” The look on his face was one of total disgust. “You think you can learn all 39 menu items in ONE hour? Ok, you asked for it. Get ready to take the test. If you miss any, I’m not sure we can take you on as a team member.”

I started feeling nervous. Self-doubt was plaguing me as I grabbed the paper from him and headed back to the small table. I sat down and looked at the first question. It read: 1. List the five main ingredients in a taco supreme. Easy! I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized I really did know all of this information pretty well. I finished the test and handed it to Scott who had stood behind me for the entire 25 minutes it took me to write my answers. He said he wanted to make sure I didn’t plan on cheating…(on a Taco Bell test!).

I passed with flying colors much to Scott’s chagrin. (I’m telling you this guy, had it out for me!) He told me to shadow his best employee, Bart. Today was a day to observe, to learn the ropes. I followed Bart around as he prepared tacos and burritos with ease and zest. He made everything look pretty easy as he explained to me his 5-part plan to conquer the world. Taco Bell was just the beginning, apparently. As the day dragged on, the customers thinned. Bart and I were discussing the virtues of adding another hot sauce to the menu when Scott burst out of his office and sauntered toward the front of the store. He looked at us, sighed and then disappeared down the hallway again. He re-emerged with the mop in his hand. He walked up to me, shoving it into my hand and said, “You got time to lean, you got time to clean!”

I took the mop and headed to the dining room. I dragged the wheeled janitor bucket and yellow caution sign behind me as I whistled songs from Mary Poppins. I was pretending to be in a musical, dancing around with mop and rolling bucket when I ran into Scott. Shit. “You’re done for today, Orth. Go home.”

I looked out the window and saw a blanket of white snow. “Can I call my roommate for a ride?” Scott ignored me. I walked after him, repeating my question. He shrugged which I assumed meant yes. Apprehensively, I touched his arm. “What?!” He jumped and looked annoyed. “Where is the phone?” He looked briefly at his office door and made a decision. “There’s a pay phone down the way, next to the Mad Mushroom.” I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t let me use the phone in his office, but instead of commenting, I smiled and walked out, punching my time card. Scott handed me my schedule as I grabbed my coat. I said goodbye to Bart and headed to the pay phone.

The next time I worked, Lacy, a part time employee and a full time bitch, was the one schooling me in the fine art of measuring every ingredient you put on a taco. She showed me how “to work the line” and by that afternoon, I was getting pretty good at being the middle man in the taco line…that is…until I felt Lacy’s hot breath on the back of my neck. I turned around and faced her. She was in her late 20s with dishwater blonde unkempt hair that exploded from her visor in frizzy tendrils. “You’re putting too much cheese on those tacos.” I had had it. She had been micromanaging me all day. “Why do you care?? You’re not eating them!” I regretted it as soon as I said it. The look of satisfaction on her face told me I had made a big mistake. “Oh really? Well…I’ll have to share your views with Scott.” I groaned. As much as Scott hated me, he loved Lacy. They were like this odd little troll couple that was dutifully loyal to the Taco Bell Nation.

Scott punished me by making me scrub industrial sized bins with dried, caked-on refried bean goop. I choked down vomit as I suds up my s.o.s pad in the oily water. I willed the minutes to go by quicker. As soon as the clock read 6:00, I threw down the scrubbing pad I’d been using and peeled off the yellow rubber gloves. “What do you think you’re doing?” It was Scott. “I’m only scheduled to 6, Scott. I’m punching out.” He shook his head and laughed. “You don’t just leave. You get cut.” I stared at him and pushed a wayward hair out of my eyes. Exasperated, he explained. “If I give you a job to do, I expect you to finish it.” I stared at the pile of dishes. “But my ride is going to be here.” He laughed again. “They’re just gonna to have to wait, now aren’t they?” I gritted my teeth and hurriedly started scrubbing the remainder of the dishes. “Make sure you do a good job. I’ll check them before you leave.” I fought the urge to bark back a snide remark. How I hated this little man!

The dishes incident wasn’t the only time Scott made me stay past my scheduled hours. I hated working until 8:00 pm on Saturdays, and Scott knew it so he always scheduled me on Saturdays until 8:00 pm. One Saturday in particular, I was very anxious to get off on time because there was a big party we were all heading to. The original plan had been to go at 7:00, but I convinced them to push it back by an hour. Scott must have sensed it because at 7:55, he handed me a mountain of green onions and said sweetly, “You’re gonna chop these here onions and then you’re cut.” I was pissed, but I knew better than to complain by now.

I grabbed the onions and power walked to the back chopping station. I grabbed the knife and went at those onions like my arms were a pair of windmills. I was fast…so fast that I’m lucky I didn’t lose a finger in the process. Finally when I was satisfied, sure that all the onions would pass Scott’s inspection, I headed toward the walk-in cooler, the onions still balancing on the cutting board. In my rush, I got clumsy. (Who am I kidding? I was always clumsy…) When the toe of my boot got caught under a loose tile, I desperately tried to keep my balance, but I couldn’t. As I went down, I watched the green onions fly into the air and come raining down on me as if in slow motion. I choked down a sob and cast furtive glances in every direction. I stole a look at the clock. 8:10. Fuck! By now, my friends were in the parking lot waiting for me… for sure. This was a setback I could not afford!

After making sure that no one was looking, I shook off the green rings that clung to my uniform and used my forearm to gather up the remaining amount. I arranged as many onions as I could on the board and kicked a few smashed pieces under the counter. I had just risen when I saw Scott come around the corner. He grabbed the cutting board from me and stared at the onions. I gulped, marveling at how close I had come to being caught. He fixed his eyes on me and for a minute, I thought he knew, and I was terrified. I smiled and said, “Cut?” He nodded and I scrambled to get out of there before he realized what I had done.

If Someone Says, "No", try at least two rebuttals before you give up...

If someone says no, try at least two rebuttals before you give up…
I’m a natural when it comes to talking. It’s what I do. I’m like that Bubba character from Forrest Gump…you know the one who could list all the different kinds of shrimp? But instead, I can boast about the many styles of talking I’m capable of…whispering late at night, talking in a loud voice for my hearing impaired grandfather, talking on the telephone, talking off the telephone, shouting above loud music, speaking fast, speaking slow, long conversations, short pow wows…I could go on and on about the various combinations of verbal output I was capable of…

That’s why when I heard about the new telemarketing place down by the old Dairy Queen on Route 30, I knew I needed to apply. I was still working at the dry cleaners a few days a week, but I felt with summer approaching, I needed more responsibility, not to mention more cash.

After the clothing disaster at Vogue, I decided I had better ask what they expected me to wear this time. They handed me a pamphlet that said the dress code was “Smart Casual” which in layman’s terms meant, “No Jeans”. I saw lots of cute boys in the breakroom my first day on the job and gave myself an internal high five for picking what I considered to be a “hot” outfit. I had on a pair of wool plaid shorts that barely covered my butt with emerald green tights stretched over my legs. Penny loafers adorned my feet and a sweater was knotted over my shoulders to complete the look. You can imagine what the rest of my closet looked like if I fancied this outfit as “high fashion”.

I crossed and uncrossed my jolly green giant legs as I tidied my workstation. More seasoned workers had already put their headsets on, looping the extra cord around their back. I picked up my headset and discreetly pulled the alcohol swab my mother had insisted I bring out of my pocket. I tried to wipe off my headset without anyone noticing, but of course, I am never that lucky. The person in the cubicle directly across from mine was Patrick Farnsey. He had a short sleeved, button down work short on with every button fastened, even the one at the very top. He polished his glasses with a Kleenex and said matter of factly, “You’re wasting your time, you know.” I assumed he wasn’t talking to me because we hadn’t, at that point, even met yet. “The alcohol…it doesn’t kill most of the viruses that contain the common cold.” The mention of alcohol got my attention. “Shh!!!” I hissed. Being an anal retentive clean freak was NOT the first impression I wanted to make on the hot guys. This Patrick geek was going to blow my cover!