Take This Job

May 6, 2010 at 5:23 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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  I picked up my paycheck from The Three Jakes yesterday.  Not the last one; I still have one more coming.  Now the last one will only have…two days on it.  Monday and last Thursday.  Eight hours total, then, and probably about forty bones after taxes.
  But this one was a bigger check, so I needed it.

  I had quit Monday night–but I half-expected a call Tuesday that never came.  Around five pm I had my phone near me, just in case–but it never happened.  I’m glad…I didn’t want a confrontation.
  The work-week at Three Three Jakes ends, oddly, on Tuesday and begins on Wednesday.  Why?  I’m not sure what the specific reason is, but I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that they are insane.  It’s a corporate thing, and other companies do it as well. 
  I imagine it begins by having an outside consultant coming in all gung-ho and wired up on pharmaceuticals and clapping his hands loudly and spouting pseudo-business babble like "Think outside the box," "synergy," "Work harder, not smarter," and similar motivating phrases.
  But whatever.  Payday is Wednesday, and I wanted to get my check after I got out of the bank.  I drove in, wondering if I should have called first.  All these worst-case scenarios went through my head:  what if I signed something that said they could play games with my check if I quit?  What I’m supposed to return my uniform–that I paid for–and until I do I don’t get my check?  What if they automatically mail them if you quit, and I won’t see it for a few days?  What if they decide that since I’m quit, they can jack me out of half my hours and get away with it?
  I showed up at The Three Jakes, and for only the second time–the first was on my first day–I pulled into the customer parking lot.  Normally I would pull onto the side which was technically the bar’s parking, but close to the drive-thru door.  All the employees parked there.  And lately, I was pulling through the drive-thru and parking in the side area, very convenient to get in and out of the store on deliveries.
  But I wasn’t an employee anymore.
  I walked in and saw Brian and Von sitting at a table, having a meeting.  I didn’t bother them.  I went to the counter, where I encountered the big fake greeting that they give customers (that I’ve done as well.)
  The guy behind the counter I had never seen before, but I don’t see the day people much.  He said, "Did ya know what ya wanted to get?"
  "Actually, I was hoping to get my check."
  As soon as he figured it out, he started to say something funny.  But Sam the day driver was already walking back to the front with it–he must have seen me.
  I looked at my check and immediately thought, "Shit, they are ripping me off since I quit!"  But I realized that it is right, and the reason it’s short is because of the two Saturdays I took off.  Crapski.
  I talked to Sam for a minute or two, and told him what was up.  He had no idea, but agreed that all things considered, it was time to go.  Chances are, few people knew I had quit, because day and night don’t talk much to each other.
  On my way out, I walked right past Brian and Von, so it was kind of hard to ignore them.  I slowed to a stop.  Brian spoke first. 
  "How are, Bryan?  Are you doing okay?"
  I was surprised by the gentleness and sincerity of his question.  I answered, "Yeah…I’m okay."  I glanced at Von, then back at Brian.  "I hope–I didn’t want to leave you in a lurch, but it was just not working out." 
  He said–what did he say?  He said something very neutral and understanding, and a bit telling in its neutrality.  Something like, "Yeah, I get that.  I understand."  But that’s not what he exactly said, and the reason I can’t remember is because it is jumbled with the energy he was projecting at the time.
  And his aura said several things.  It projected some honesty, and some empathy.  He did cut my hours, on purpose, to give them to someone else.  And he did it because he was told to.  Either by Matt the DM directly, or by his training that requires him to be heartless and dead inside.
  Hell, Matt might have even made the schedule.  But Brian had defeat in him–he knew that there were things that were unsavory that he would have to do to keep his own job, and he has accepted that, and he does them.  His whole demeanor is, "Yeah, it’s shitty, but what can you do?"
  It comes from strictly a business decision that someone else made, and they signed papers when they were hired that said they would buy in to the company philosophy, so they can’t argue about it.  That way, the company gets only Yes-men and no disagreement on strategy.
  So, The Three Jakes is all about incredibly fast service.  Insanely fast.  Freaky fast, even.  They’ve noticed a trend that since February when we peaked, night-time sales have been slipping.  Therefore, it must be due to service.  We must be taking too much time.  I must be slow.
  It can’t be anything else, like:
  After opening, the newness wears off.
  Every place around here that isn’t a bar closes very early.  Why is that?
  The economy is in recovery.  But it’s still down.
  Oh, but sales during the day are up?  Great.  These are sammiches we’re selling.  Cold sammiches.  That is a lunch item, not as much a dinner item.  They know and they schedule that way.  During the day there might be nine or ten people or more, and at night they’re going to have three, maybe four.
  We service the Soulard area, which is notoriously dense with bars and restaurants.  At night, most people are eating somewhere else. 
  But DM has no control over these things.  The economy?  The local business collective?  If I can’t do anything about those things, I’ll do something about the things I can–
  Let’s replace some people.
  I worked with DMs before, and they are, for the most part, a waste of space.  They exist solely to make a manager’s life miserable and difficult, and justify their existence by trying to solve problems that they themselves had caused in the first place.
  I never realized before how much they are like politicians.
 
  We shook hands.  I looked at Von, and he was pretending to be sad, but I saw a real sadness behind the fake sadness there–it was subtle.  But there was a wide-eyed disbelief that I was leaving.  I wanted to give him a hug.  I shook his hand, and said, "I’ll come by and see you sometime.  I got your number.  Peace out."
  And I was gone.

****

  I never really bonded with anyone there, I thought.  But I did make some level-seven friends, like Von.  And Cameron was a good kid.  I liked Kelly a lot–but who doesn’t like a sassy black girl?  Will was annoying, of course–I didn’t even mention it when he was no longer working with us and got a transfer to another store to have a whole new group of people to piss off.  TJ was okay.  I didn’t see a lot of other people.  The little girl Marissa was horrified of and disgusted with me–on the whole, a fairly accurate perception.  Shannon the lesbian was starting to warm up to me–I have a way with *the ladies*.
  So it’s almost not worth the effort, the special line I throw out when I leave someplace.  But it’s a tradition, so maybe when I go to get my last check, I’ll get a card and leave it for them.
  So many faces in and out of my life
  Some will last; some will just be now and then
  Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes–
  I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again.

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