03 March 2009

Not-so-cool jobs from my so-called life.

If you want the truth, I haven’t really had any cool jobs. I was never a spy for the Russian army. I never walked on the moon. I haven’t walked up the red carpet to my movie premiere. I didn’t – well, you get the idea. I’ve worked some places. I’ve done some things. I’ll tell you my stories.

My very first job (aside from the many years of babysitting) was at the only Jewish deli in El Paso, Texas. And if you’re wondering if there’s a real need for a Jewish deli in El Paso, Texas, you are completely justified. I think there are maybe 20 Jewish people in the whole place. Nevertheless, there was a Jewish deli, and I worked there as a hostess/busboy/waitress/cashier for two-and-a-half years. The waitresses taught me everything I know about being loud and pervy.

It was owned by Richard and Joanna Bryar. I think when I started they were both in their 70’s. It was a pretty sad place. It was rarely busy. Richard (Dick, to his friends) spent most of his days napping in his office. He weighed about 400 pounds and constantly wore this giant yellow shirt that made him look like a depressed version of Big Bird. Joanna (Crazy, to the rest of us) only came in for a few hours every week, but it was her goal to drive all of us crazy in that short period.

Mostly, she would call every hour with questions for her husband. Let me give you an example. But first, I’ll remind you that I was 16. Now that we have that covered, here’s how the conversation usually went:

Me: “Thank you for calling Bryar’s Deli, how may I help you?”

Her: “Oh honey, is Dick up? I can’t remember where I put my (fill-in-the-blank).”

Me: (choking back the laughing tears) “Yes, ma’am, I’ll go check.”


Me: “Thank you for calling Bryar’s Deli, how may I help you?”

Her: “Honey, have you seen Dick? I need to ask him about (fill-in-the-blank).”

Me: “Well, no ma’am, I haven’t.”

My personal favorite was…no, actually I have two favorites:

Me: You get the idea…

Her: “Oh honey, I need Dick! There’s a mouse in the house.”

Me: “I don’t really have the right equipment to handle that, ma’am. Let me get Mr. Bryar for you.”

And finally:

Her: “Honey, I’m making cranberry loaf, and it calls for a cup of butter. But if I melt eight ounces of butter, won’t that make way more than a cup?”

Really? I’m pretty sure eight ounces of butter is eight ounces of butter no matter what you do to it. Unless you spill it, of course. She made the cranberry loaf, but forgot the sugar. That was the worst shit I ever tasted.

The Bryars were an interesting couple, to say the least. Across the street from the deli stood an Applebee’s. That’s right, the national chain restaurant. Dick and Joanna were convinced that the Applebee’s was conspiring (with whom, they never said) to put them out of business. They would stand and look out the window at all the cars in the Applebee’s parking lot. Once, there was a dead cricket in our lobby. Immediately, Joanna concluded that it must be the work of the evil Applebee’s spies.

Eventually, I had to quit working there when Dick and Joanna decided they should have a hand in my parenting. Crazy. On short notice, the only job I could find was at the Whataburger. Now that was an awesome job. It’s the only job I’ve ever had where speaking English was actually a hindrance. I worked the over-night shift a lot. I even had my very own stalker. He would wait for me in the parking lot and try to follow me home. I guess he was turned on by the plaid polyester. Have you ever seen a Whataburger uniform? They are supremely unattractive. And yet, my cuteness still came through.

I really improved my job skills at the Whataburger, though. I learned how to hit on the chick in the restaurant for the guy at the drive-thru window. I learned how to clean giant puddles of grease from behind the stove. I learned how to call 911 when one guy dropped a chicken strip in a vat of boiling grease and it splashed up onto another girl’s arm. Really, these things have come in handy. I decided it wasn’t the career path for me the night we got held up. I was in the back, cutting tomatoes (and my hands and fingers), when it happened. No one got shot. I hid under the tomato-cutter table. I quit the next day.

One of the jobs I love to hate was at Kohl’s Department Store. I was the department supervisor of the Lingerie Department. I know what you’re thinking. But it really wasn’t as hot as it sounds. Kohl’s is the place where I discovered how disgusting women are. Oh, the dressing rooms in that place. Women would go in there, take their nasty, dirty, diseased panties off and steal the pretty, clean, nice underwear from the store. Really. And guess who had to pick it up? Me. It was so gross.

I had a giant box of latex-free gloves that I stashed in my little secret drawer for these occasions. The worst day was what I like to call Day of the Period Panties. Yeah, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Some woman left her nasty I-forgot-to-change-my-tampon-today underwear in the dressing room. The smell was atrocious. I’ve never smelled anything like it. I can’t say I ever want to smell anything like it again either. I requested a HAZMAT suit after that, but they turned me down.

For six years after that, I had a pretty awesome job. I worked for a builder, selling houses. You can translate that as, I got to sit in model home all day and wait for people to come buy houses from me. My boss and I got along great. She had some technical issues with technology (Read: Once I tried to show her how to use her computer and she put her mouse on the monitor screen when I told her to move it…), but other than that, it went smoothly. Then I decided to go back to college. And now…I’m an intern. (See previous post about internship. More to follow about my current job.)