The Three Jakes

December 31, 2009 at 10:41 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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  Is it a misnomer for me to file this under "Riding in Cars With Pizza" even though there is no pizza involved?
  Not at all.  Perfectly legitimate.  For three reasons:
a)  It’s all under the umbrella of food delivery, and when I worked at the steak place I ne’er gave it a second thought.
2)  If Obama can push universal health care, take over controlling interest in car makers and banks, and coerce states to give up their sovereignty for highway funds–and then not deny that he’s a socialist–
Then I can deliver sammiches and call it Riding in Cars With Pizza.
d)  I still work at the other pizza place.

Chinatown

  We’ll see if I get this posted in time to count for December.  But it happened in December, not too long ago.  Like, last night.  But it all seems like a dream.  A horrible, painful dream…
  Last night was my first night at JJ.  Learning what I have learned from the past, I shall call the place by a different name in case I am involved in something illegal or immoral and they happen to have corpprate Internet spies.  Again–how do you get that job?
  But what should I call it?  James Johanssen’s?  How about similar letters?  II’s?  Odd.  KK’s?  Odder still, and connotation is racist.  I originally selected this title for a different reason which may or may not be evident later because I tend to be either cryptic and confusing and occasionally both at the same time, but I’m going to call the place "The Three Jakes."  It’s my blog and I’ll use aliases if I want to.  Don’t worry, they won’t figure it out.  Trust me.
  I told Matt the DM that maybe I could work on Wednesday.  I was scheduled for Thursday as my first day, but I was scheduled at Imo’s for Wednesday.  I didn’t want to miss the big first day because it would be…the…big…first day.  You know?  I asked him if I should call someone when I know, or what?
  He said no, just–If I can come in, go ahead and come in.  If I can’t, that’s fine too.  Since hindsight is how you gain knowledge, I went in last night.

The Three Jakes

  I’m the first Jake.  Bryan, I mean.  The manager of this store Brian, probably spelled like that.  Later that night, another Brian came in.  That was a simple explanation.  On with the show–
  Brian’s (not me, the other one–see how fun this can be?) perpetual expression is harried.  I got there early, and he didn’t want to deal with me until five, when the other fivers got there, so i just wandered around the store, trying to stay out of their way, but also watching and trying to learn.  Meanwhile, Brian had a bunch of his day people rolling around the place that eventually left.
  I was the one and only driver.
  Good thing we didn’t have a lot of deliveries.
  Brian had me don an apron like everyone else.  Mostly I worked in the store, learning various ridiculous things.  Mayo will be my undoing in this place, I fear.  It is everywhere, like beer in a frathouse.  It might just be my imagination, but I smell it right now.
  When I first walked into the place, my first impression is that it was *loud*.  Loud music playing over the speakers in the dining area.  They do alot of things there that seem to be ridiculous, but they might be done for a reason.  Maybe the reasons are ridiculous, too.  We’ll call this stuff "Three Jake Logic."  TJL.  I can only imagine the TJL for this–besides the chic atmosphere–is to make it annoying for most people so they leave in a hurry, if they stay at all.  Not only
that, but if it’s loud out there, they can’t hear us behind the counter cursing or talking about them.
  It’s a little difficult to hear behind the counter as well.  Or maybe it’s just me–but I’m not the only one constantly saying, "Huh?"  How this really helps operations is taking an order over the phone.  Half of the orders I took–I took four–had the wrong address, undoubtedly because it was heard wrong.  Good thing I have a cell phone.  Good thing.

Bohemian Rhapsody

  My first delivery, oh boy.  Like everything else in this area, it’s a large and old brick building that some enterprising contractor yuppy-sized on the inside.  Security door, brick walk, a freaking fountain, high ceilings with exposed beams and colorfully painted ductwork  (because nothing hides large rattling HVAC like painting it in bright metallic primary colors and exposing it in the rafters) and prints of impressionist masters on the hallway walls.  "Hi, my name Claudius, and I’m a pretentious ass."  "Hi, Claudius!"
  The place is full of white people.  While I was trying to figure out the security door code, a trusting soul let me in.  Sucker.  After he lets me in we chat a bit, then I knock him silly and steal his wallet.  I get to the right apartment number according to the ticket, and knock.  I wait, and then knock again.  Finally, some noise, and then a voice calls out, "Just a minute!"  Okay.
  And it took about a minute before the door opened.  A pretty young woman in a wheelchair.  She smiled.  I smiled.  She said, "I didn’t order anything."  I stopped smiling.  My first delivery is a prank?  Mother-fucker.  I verified certain information.  The address?  Hers.  The name?  Not hers.  The phone number?  Not hers.  Using my incredible powers of reason and logic and decades of experience, I fingered out the problem.
  "Sorry to bother you–looks like we have the wrong address on here.  I’ll give them a call."
  She was very sweet, and I said, "Give us a call–we deliver."  She answered that we had a drive-thru, so she could come by as well.  I think she was hitting on me.  In fact, I’m sure of it.
  I called the customer, she was upstairs.  337, not 237.  She was a pretty woman as well, in her 30’s, with that Look-at-me-I’m-an-Artist vibe.
  An hour later my next delivery was an apartment also, and the address was wrong again.  I was beginning to think the address was more of a suggestion or approximation than the actual. 

Phone Booth

  Some immeasurable time later I took another run.  The time spent in the store is excruciating.  I actually have to DO stuff.  But the clock is a familiar foe of mine, and I know how to milk it.
  This run was actually a double.  Two whole completely separate deliveries to two different places at the same time.  Wow.  What was this, 8 oclock?
  The first guy was nice; he tipped and asked why I was breathing so hard.  I huffed a polite "fuck off" to him and left.
  The next stop was a little corner laundromat with an attendant on duty.  That was not immediately obvious, but the old black homeless-looking woman with a gold tooth was sitting at a table with clothes all over it, and she popped open a cash drawer to pay me.  All of my deliveries had tipped me so far, including her.
  I got back to the store from what turned out to be my last run and hung my hoodie up to don again my gay apparel.  Automatically I checked my pockets.  My phone wasn’t there.
  Concerned but not yet panicking, I checked all of my pockets and the coat again.  Damn.  I checked my hands, to make sure I wasn’t still talking on it, because that has happened to me before.
  I looked in my car.  Nada.  I borrowed another guy’s phone to go out to my car and listen for it as I called it.  Nada surf.  I retraced in my head (as opposed to, I guess, the pavement) when I had it last.  It was in the car, on that last delivery.  The pockets of my hoodie are kinda shallow–it could have easily slipped out.
  Fuck me.  Now I’m concerned.
  I tell whoever is in charge at this point (don’t know, don’t care) that I need to go retrace my steps and find my phone.  Luckily, my new phone is mostly white, instead of black, so it should be easier to see at night.  If the ground wasn’t covered in snow.  Aarrgh.  No luck at the first place.  I retraced my steps from my parking spot the front door.  Luckily it was well-lit or I would have needed some illumination, like the light from my cell phone display.
  I drove to the next stop, the laundromat.  I thought I might have set it on the counter when I picked up the money, if I had it in my hand when I set the food down.  Not likely, but possible.
  I had horrible visions of the laundromat horde doing unspeakable things with my phone, like accessing the web–because I never could do that with accuracy.  I asked the nice homeless-looking lady and she said no, she hadn’t seen it, and looked on the counter.  I noticed a funny thing out of the corner of my eye.  When I came in and mentioned it, an older gentleman reading a paper instinctively reached for his shirt pocket and patted it, to make sure his phone was there.
  I muttered a thanks and said I was going to go look in the spot I had parked.  The nice lady gave me her phone to use to call it, so I could hear it ring.  I went out and found the spot I had parked in.  It was still empty.  The phone in my hand was ringing, but I didn’t hear my familiar ring tone–Beethoven’s "Ode To Joy."  No, wait–it would be something by Iron Maiden.
  There on the wet ground, glistening in the rain, was my phone.  Yay.  I guess.  I found it.  The screen was dark and silent.  I rushed to pick it up, and almost–almost–pressed the button to unlock the screen.
  Wait, though–electronics and water aren’t especially copacetic.  I learned much in six years of junior college.  I resisted turning it on, and instead I went back inside and gave the lady her phone.  I said, "The good news is, I found it.  The bad news is, I found it in the rain and covered in water."
  She said, "Oh-Oh.  Don’t turn it on.  Take the battery out.  Right now.  And the SIM card."  I did as she said.  "Just let it dry out for a good long while before you put it back."
  Great.  This makes sense.  I didn’t have high hopes for it–but it could happen.  I thanked her and left.

The Man With Two Brains

  That left me with a couple of hours to kill until ten o’clock.  I struck up a conversation with this other new guy.  Like me, his first day was today.  He was not a driver, but strictly an inside person.  He was about 30, I think.  Maybe older.  Intellectual.  But also smart and willing to work–more so than I was.  Early on he mentioned that on his day job he works at one of the two big universities–maybe I should have been paying attention.  Was it Wash U or SLU?  But he could have been a janitor or a chair-stacker for all I knew.
  As it turns out, he’s a researcher–probably has a master’s degree–and he studies brain trauma.  We had a discussion about it.  Of course I can undestand master’s degree level brain studies.  I learned a great deal, and, unless he is better at concealing condescension than most, I held my own in the coversation.
  Or it just could have been bullshit.  He also talked about the fact–and I get that he is "proud" of himself"–he took this type of job which would normally be beneath someone of his intellect and brainpan.  He said his collegues said as much–why lower yourself to this?
  I asked him an incredibly rhetorical question:  "Do you find that the intellectual elites that populate academia largely feel superior to the unwashed masses that have to work for a living?"
  "Yes."
  "Well, I thought as much.  That’s why I asked."  It’s one thing to be superior–as I am–but it’s quite another to put it on display for the derision of others.  Especially if those others you feel superior to happen to include me.  You have to draw the line somewhere, and I’d like to think my dick makes the line in the sand.  Across this line you do not–

Pencil Me In

  Meanwhile, Adam came in.  He was the swing-shift manager.  This crazy place is open until 2am Sunday through Tuesday, and 4am Wednesday through Saturday.   So Adam is working 9pm to 4am.  Maybe 5am, by the time they ge done with every ridiculous thing.
  Brian gets ready to leave,  but before he does he talks to all of us about our schedule availability.  I explain several times that I have a day job and during the week I want to work no later than  10 pm.  Off on Sunday.  And some other random details.  Ten minutes later, as he thinks he is walking out the door, he looks at me and says, "So, you’re closing, right?"
  "NO!  I’m not!"  My voice may have gone up in pitch when I said that.   Four am?–And I get up for work in the morning at 530.  Not on your fucking life.  Everyone and everything around here was still new enough to me–and I had no attachment–that I could walk out of here with no remorse whatsoever.  He said he’d make some calls, and looked at the schedule.  It did look like someone was scheduled for 10pm to close–another fucking vampire.  Okay.  He left, with a word to call him if someone didn’t show up, so they could "work something out." 
  Since I’ve done this all before I know it is kind of a passive-aggressive way to get me to do something I don’t want to do.  Well, I got news for them–
  At ten o’clock Brain-Boy’s replacement comes in, a young dude named Brian.  Brain-boy’s name is TJ–named, I think, for the famous Hooker.  My guy was still not here.  I’m too disgusted to be apathetic.  Or vice versa, I think.  As TJ and I had discussed earlier, there was no real training to speak of.  Just "Do this.  No, like this.  Oh, and keep the place clean."  Thus endeth the lesson.
  Another hour goes by, almost.  My feet hurt (no chairs allowed behind the counter at all, not even in back at the desk which is the "office."  So they want you to stand up the entire time.  They want me to remove my car seat so I can Stand And Deliver.
  At 1030, I mention to Adam that I’m getting worried.  Also, I stopped working.  I’m just leaning against the counter, waiting.  He makes a call to Brian, who says that he would make some calls.  This is not looking good.
  About 1050, a guy calls.  He left his other job (day job?) at 10pm, and was on his way right from there.  A few minutes later, he showed.  Steve, I’m glad to see you.
  I cashed out, made a grand total of 10 bucks on four deliveries.  Divide by 5.67 hours, and that’s…call it a buck seventy-five.  Add that to my min, for a total of 9 clams per hour. 
  I could work in a slaughterhouse for better money, and it’d be more fun.

Escape From New York.

  "Gentlemen, have a good evening."  I left.  Of course it had been raining all night, and it was now 11p, so it had been dark for the past…call it 36 hours.  I had found my way around this little neighborhood with no problem tonight, because I am a highly skilled and well-trained individual.  I head north on Broadway, and cut over to 7th.  I think.  Uh.  Oh, wait–there it is.  No, that way…Okay.  Oh, a ramp.  There’s the ramp to get on the highway.
  Remember this:  Once you are on the ramp, you are pretty much committed to being on the highway until the next ramp comes along.  I went up the ramp.  Halfway up the ramp, the sign says 64 East.
  Hmmm.  That doesn’t sound right.  I need 55 North, or 64 West.  64 East might not go–
  There was no motherfucking way to get off the goddamn fucking shit highway until I was fucking fucked the way fucking over in Illinois.  See my car, there in the dark, going across the bridge, and all the cursing coming out of it?  Fuck me.
  Not only did I have to go into Illinois, but I had to go WELL into Illinois.  The twisted bands of interstate travelling through the heart of East St Louis are wisely meant to take you AWAY from East St Louis as quickly as it can without giving you the most unwise choice of getting off in the middle of it.  For that, I suppose I am grateful, otherwise they might not identify the remains of my body in my car after it was torched and the the rims stolen.  I finally got off at
Route 3, the first exit I get to.  I intended to get off, turn, go down, and get back on going the other way.
  Like a metaphor for my ridiculous life, there is no "going the other way."  I continue on 3 going north.
  I have seen the future, brothers and sisters.  In the coming apocalypse and destruction of civilization, I know what it looks like.  It looks like East St Louis.  It looks like it’s two infamous suburbs, Brooklyn and Venice, Illinois.  If a large armor-plated and heavily armed truck had come rolling down the road at me a la Road Warriors, I would not have been surprised.
  I also would not have been more scared, either.  The fucking place is scary.  I found signs that led to the interstate–the next interstate–and followed those.  Eight miles.  Eventually I escaped the Danger Zone and was once again in familiar territory.
  By the time I got home it was a quarter to twelve.  Detroit was still up.  I said, "I was really hoping you would be asleep, because I’m a little moody and a little pissy, and I don’t want to talk to anyone."
  She went to sleep, which was good, because I’m sure I would have been an ass.  I still had to eat and wind down, so I heated up my goddamn cold sammich and ate, and then had a smoke in silence.
 
Aftermath

  Tonight, it wasn’t as bad psychologically.  The music was quieter, so I could hear myself and others think.  Also,  Brian explained The Three Jakes’ marketing plan…or lack thereof.  They do a soft open, and people discover them and they gradually get busier.  Give it a few weeks.  I don’t want to lose you, okay?
  Actually, he said that to the other driver, Steve.  But he seemed fragile, and in need of that kind of affirmation.  I just wonder why he doesn’t like me.
  Anyway, it was still slow, but I knew I wasn’t going to have stay all night, and I got to do a little more, and play with the other kids some more, so it was better.  So I have hopes that–maybe I should set a deadline.
  End of January.  It better be better, or it’ll be time for these bootheels to be wandering.
  But still–I swear to God, instead of driving for them, they should hire me as a consultant for a hundred grand a year and I’ll teach them everything about delivery that they honestly don’t know. 
  Oh, they are all committed to the quality of the product and all that crap, yadda-yadda-yadda.  But they treat delivery like it was an afterthought.
  This is the conversation in their board meeting:

  How about we…throw the sammiches up in the air and shoot them?
  Good, good.  I like how you’re thinking.  Or maybe we could…deliver them?
  Phffft.  Whatever.
  No, we can do that.
  Fine.  We’ll deliver.  Can we still throw the sammiches in the air and shoot them?
  No.  That’s not…part of the business model.
  I don’t know you any more.

  On another note, the cute chick in the wheelchair that was the wrong address last night ordered tonight, and I delivered it.  Very nice.  And I think she has a girlfriend.  So:  a hot yuppie lesbian in a wheelchair.  This covers a variety of kinks, and I think she wants me.

Oh, yeah–happy fucking New Year.

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