The Mood, The Mod, And The Pods

March 3, 2010 at 9:44 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  I’ve been full of revelation and epiphany lately.  Just full of it.  This latest one, I think I knew from the start–my subconscious picked up on it intuitively, even though I didn’t realize it enough to define it.
  I’ve bitched about The Three Jakes and discussed the many oddities of how they operate.  But once this thought crystallized late last week, I searched for evidence that I might be wrong.  I hoped I was wrong.  But I’m not.
  The word that best describes the corporate culture of The Three Jakes is *Devoid*.
  Devoid of personality.  Devoid of individuality.  Devoid of humanity.  For all of their fun-loving signs and attitude in design, the reality is different.  The signs are planned.  Pre-planned hipness–And when you open a store you order the "sign pack," that gives you all the same signs…and directions on where to put them for the maximum effect of looking cool and random.
  The daily work is just…ah…what’s a good word?  –Regimental.  And a true indicator of the pre-designed drain.  As I’ve said, all the work is done according to the bitch list.  There are several parts to the bitch list.  Two parts, printed up each day, are divided into one for management and one for crew.  Of course, the one for crew is all about cleaning.  The one for management I haven’t looked at closely because I don’t give a shit.  I’ve seen enough of it, though, to know it’s ridiculous, redundant, and unnecessarily time-consuming.
  The design of both of them is so that if you have all the free time in the world, you’ll never get everything done.  Why is that, I wondered.  Well, I have a theory. 
  At The Three Jakes, they want to make sure they get their money’s worth out of you, you minimum-wage fuck.  If you have free time, say a spare minute here or there to have a conversation with a coworker, not only are you STEALING from the company by not working your ass off every second of your time on the clock, but if you get to know someone and develop a friendship (or worse, begin dating) then who knows where it will end–except, of course, with a decrease in productivity.
  No spare time is allowed.  All the items on the bitch list have to be completed and initialed on every shift, and the following shift has to check them and initial that they checked them.  No room for slacking.  This is, after all, a medium-sized regional corporate chain sammich shop, and we have to be the bestest.  If there isn’t enough on the bitch list, there’s another list called…let’s call it the extra bitch list.  Weekly, everything in the store needs to be cleaned, and so the stuff that isn’t on the daily bitch list is on the extra bitch list, divided up into seven days so that each day there are new extra bitch list chores to break up the monotony of the regular bitch list.
  Look, we all know that I don’t have the highest standards for cleanliness.  However, I’ve worked in restaurants for a long time.  I know what is needed–whether or not I do it–and what is excessive.  This shit is excessive.  If I’m in the middle of cleaning something and I have to leave on a delivery, and then I come back to pick up where I left off and I CAN’T TELL where I left off, then it’s unnecessary.
  Part of it has to do with the managers’ "bonus" plan–and yes, you have to say it with quotation marks around it–and the arbitrary and highly subjective monthly inspection.  If you don’t get all of the points, you don’t get all of the bonus.  If you don’t get all of the bonus…where does it go?  I imagine it goes to the guy doing the inspection.  If he says it’s not clean, it’s not clean.  I don’t imagine there is an appeal process in place.  Isn’t it strange that we needed (or they needed; I’m not getting anything out of this except a backache and calluses on my cynical attitude) to get a 95% and our score was 94.7%?  Jessica was saddened, but hopeful.  "Yeah, we just missed it, darn it.  But maybe next time…"
  I wish I had a picture of the look on my face, because I don’t think I ever had the specific look called "incredulous" before.
  So because of the bitch list and the extra bitch list and the weight of them on the inspection that determines the bonus, EVERY second must be spent doing something.  I’m not kidding.  Oh, Lord, I wish I was.  And I don’t mind working; it’s not hard although I tend to shy away from things that require me to bend in the middle.  But there is just no time.  No time for anything.  No small talk.  Never.
  I’ve been interrupted constantly just in trying to get a work-related question answered.  I gave up long ago on anything personal or non-work related.  Remember Dave, the man I saw lying dead in the street?  I haven’t been able to tell anyone at work about it.  I wonder if it’s even worth it, to tell them.  What are they going to do with that information? 
  Instead of talking, I’ve been listening.  I know that’s pretty hard for you to believe, but it’s true.  I’ve been listening to everyone’s conversations.  I’m not as deaf as they think I am, so it’s easy.  But it’s also boring and excruciatingly redundant.  I don’t think I’ve heard a single conversation that is not about work.  Not one.  Christ.  You’re already AT work, and you’re DOING work, and you want to TALK about it as well?
  For minimum fucking wage, I’m not that goddamn focused OR dedicated.
  One of the symptoms of ADD is excessive talking, and I guess over-sharing goes hand in hand with that (hence the blog).  Medicated now, I still kind of want to share, but I also feel it’s just not worth the trouble.
  I’ve managed to have a couple of two or three minute conversations with Brian–after I was off the clock.  But I measure my words and also my content–how deep do I want to go?  Not very.  How much detail should I give?  Very little.  How much do I want to share?  As it turns out…practically none at all.  I swear, if it wasn’t for my medication, I don’t think I could work here.
  It’s so…Invasion-of-the-Body-Snatchers like.  Everyone becomes a hyper-focused pod person, and leaves their personality at the door.  Every I have every worked, there has always been a few minutes of down time to relax and share.  Not here.  Not ever.  It’s the oddest goddamn thing.  It’s the kind of thing that if I wasn’t here to witness it I wouldn’t believe it because it’s just some prick with a poor attitude going off on his job.  But it’s me (but I am a prick), and I have experience in enough other places to notice that it’s just not quite right here.
  Sometime last week, Jessica told me to go ahead and take my break.  I did, and made a sammich.  She was making one also–being a manager, she has to get in a break whenever she can.  I never asked her or invited her, but still–I went to go sit down in the customer area, and a few minutes later, she did too.  On the other side of the room.
  Is that rude?  Should we have sat together?  It just seemed damned odd to me.  Across the room, facing away from me.  Normally custom would dictate that two coworkers who might be the only ones on break at the same time sit together, unless they are previously married to each other.  I guess we aren’t going to chat after all, are we?  It just kind of put some punctuation on my point.  I almost got up and went over and invited myself to sit with her, but it didn’t seem to be worth the trouble.  There is just nothing inside these people.  Nothing.
  I don’t know if it’s been beaten out of them, or if it’s a survival reflex, or what.  Programming and conditioning?  You hear about the cliche of robotic workers and mindless drones, but it’s just a cliche–you never expect to really see it.  Even on my day job in the whole "corporate environment" people have the freedom to be themselves and express their individuality.  There is none of that at The Three Jakes.  It’s damn unnerving.

  And that is why, ultimately, I think I’m going to have to look for another job:  It’s all just a little too freaky for me.  Sometimes I’m scared to go to sleep because I fear I might wake up in a pod.

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